Starting off the week at Hughson, the varsity soccer boys lost a tough 1-0 decision. They bounced back on Thursday, though, handing Hilmar a setback by the same 1-0 score.
At Hughson, head coach Paul Silva said it was a penalty kick in the 15th minute of the game that proved to be the only score of the night.
“Brayan (Barrientos) actually blocked it,” Silva noted of his goalie making the initial PK stop. “But it went right back to the guy and he kicked it in.”
Barrientos had seven saves but Silva said the offense for the Cougars wasn’t clicking and they could never find the net.
“We really couldn’t exploit our speed, we couldn’t get the ball out to the wings and attack,” Silva added. “Credit to Hughson, they really fought and played well.”
Thursday against Hilmar, it was a determined Cougar team that came out looking for victory.
The teams battled through a scoreless first half and about 25 minutes into the second half, they notched the only goal of the game. Eli Lattig sent the ball across the goal mouth to Moises Grajeda, who was there with the perfect touch to get it past the Hilmar keeper.
“Eli harassed the guy (Hilmar defender) and took the ball away, then just put a perfect cross pass to Moises; he got it over the goalie,” Silva explained. “They have a tall goalie and Moises was able to get it over him.”
The game had a hectic pace and Silva said though it “wasn’t always pretty” he was proud of the effort and glad to see the team come away with the much-needed win.
“We kept battling and it was good to see that kind of fight get rewarded with a goal,” the coach noted. “Positioning was good, communication was good.”
Keeper Barrientos also went in battling injury but didn’t let his team down.
“He gutted it out, had nine saves,” Silva said.
When the final whistle blew, the Cougars couldn’t contain their excitement, with hugs and high fives all around.
“When we played down there, we lost 6-0,” Silva said of the reason for celebrating the 1-0 win. “Every mistake we made, they punished us so to put in a performance like this, it was very satisfying.”
Escalon will next host Riverbank on Thursday, Feb. 13 at 3:30 p.m.
It was their only game of the week and the junior varsity Cougars made the most of it, getting a 2-1 win against the visiting Hmar Yellowjackets on Thursday, Feb. 6.
“It was 1-1 at the half,” said head coach Polo Rodriguez. “We scored midway through the half and a few minutes later, on a long goal kick, they tied it up.”
Sawyer Mello scored the goal for Escalon in the first half with an assist from Andres Beltran. In the second half, a late goal by Miguel Granados, assisted by Beltran, put the JV boys in the lead for good, earning the 2-1 league victory.
Aldo Yepiz had five saves in goal, including a highlight reel save in the first half.
“They beat us at their house,” Rodriguez said, happy to return the favor. “I think in the first half, that was all they (Hilmar) had to give but they always give us a tough game.”
Riverbank will be in town Thursday, Feb. 13 to face off with the JV boys.