Earning a 1-0 win over Hughson, the Escalon Cougars then battled Hilmar down to the end, falling by a 5-4 decision in action on the pitch.
They were at Hughson for the Oct. 21 contest and got the goal from Isaac Mancillas, assist by Rafael Aranda, 17 minutes in.
“It wasn’t our best performance, our passes weren’t connecting but it was a real gutty performance,” said coach Paul Silva. “We limited Hughson to just a few shots and all their shots were from distance.”
Goalie Dervin Murphy had five saves in goal to secure the shutout win.
“We were real solid in our positioning and we hung tough,” said Silva. “It was probably the grittiest game we’ve had in a long time.”
Back on the field for a Wednesday, Oct. 23 contest, it was the home finale for the team and they hosted Hilmar but ultimately lost by a one-goal margin.
“It was an exciting game, a little disappointing that we lost since it was the last home game,” Silva said, with his seniors not able to enjoy the win. “The first 25 to 30 minutes, we were on point.”
Escalon went up 2-0 with a goal by Carlos Cruz, assist by Jose Pantoja six minutes in, adding a second goal from Luis Chavez and the assist by Juan Vasquez. Hilmar trimmed the lead to 2-1 at the half and Escalon had difficulty maintaining the effort in the final 40 minutes.
“It got away from us,” said Silva. “We weren’t very disciplined in our positioning.”
The Cougars, though, went up 3-1 early in the second half on a penalty kick, with Chavez pulled down in the box by the Hilmar goalie. Vasquez took the kick and converted. Hilmar then stormed back with three goals to take a 4-3 lead, Chavez tied it up on a corner kick, curving it in to make it 4-4.
“It was looking like it was going to be a tie,” said Silva. “But they scored late, got the win.”
Murphy had six saves and the Cougars played well, they just ran out of time to get the equalizer and Hilmar took the 5-4 win.
Escalon was slated to close out the season with a road game at Modesto Christian on Monday, Oct. 28, past sports press time for The Times.