HANFORD — The pregame message for Hanford’s home opener from coach DelRay Dias to his team was simple: “You don’t lose at home.”
But the Bullpups found themselves in a close 1-0 battle with Porterville (0-3-1) late in Tuesday night’s game after missing plenty of opportunities to break the game wide open.
The thing is, they’re the Bullpups and they were going to figure it out sooner or later, which they finally did. Hanford used a furious blitzkrieg of three goals over the final 12 minutes to put away Porterville and secure a 4-0 victory to stay perfect on the season.
“I really didn’t like very much of tonight’s game actually, as a coach,” Dias said candidly. “Too many missed opportunities, too many bad touches … when you have five one-on-ones in the first half and you don’t put one away, that is an issue.”
Hanford (4-0-2) generated scoring chances from the beginning with two shots on goal in the first six minutes. They continued to press and swing the ball to each side of the field, which led to their first of seven corner kicks in the 10th minute.
It was cleared easily, but it was the precursor to the offensive chances Hanford would have. In the 11th minute, Sheyenne Hodge had a one-on-one opportunity, but Porterville’s goalkeeper came out to make the stop.
Just two minutes later, Skyler Martinez took a corner kick, which Danae Hill put a good header on, but it bounced off the crossbar. As the ball came down, Baylee Dias was ready on the back post and put her foot on it for the 1-0 lead.
“I just saw Danae shooting the ball, and I just needed to follow because that’s what we work on in practice,” Baylee said. “I just followed the ball in and hit it.”
More scoring chances would follow with one of the best coming in the 22nd minute when Baylee had a cross come to her, which she flicked, but the goalkeeper made another save.
Entering halftime, the Bullpups led 1-0, but it felt like a three-goal lead. Porterville hadn’t managed a shot on goal and Hanford goalkeeper Hanna Murrieta hadn’t even touched the ball after 40 minutes.
Still, Dias was not happy with the chances the girls had missed. One-on-one opportunities with the goalie were either pushed wide or run right into her hands. Passes were made instead of shots and touches were misplayed.
The second half was more of the same. Hanford imposed its will on the Panthers and made multiple runs into the penalty area, but continued to come up empty.
Hodge, alone with the goalkeeper again, in the 41st minute, put a good shot on target, but fingertips sent the ball over the net. Another close miss. The ensuing corner kick was cleared by Porterville. Another missed opportunity.
Isabelle Schroder found herself in the penalty area and sailed a shot over the goal for another near-miss. The Hanford crowd groaned again as they were ready to explode with excitement.
Porterville tried to tie the game up in the 67th minute on a quick run down the middle of the field, but Murrieta made a perfectly timed run out to the ball to make her first save of the game. She finished with two saves.
It wasn’t until the 69th minute that Hanford finally broke through. Hodge made a run into the penalty area and was fouled just before the 12-yard mark. The referee awarded the penalty kick.
Martinez calmly lined up and buried the kick for the 2-0 lead. Hanford sophomore Jenna Mynderup then followed up the goal with a quick strike two minutes later.
“I saw [Schroder] try to make it and you have to follow through for a back corner, and I was there at the right time and got it in,” Mynderup said.
The final goal was a nice piece of work from Schroder who followed the ball and didn’t give up on what looked like it would be an easy pick up for the goalkeeper. Instead, she got a foot on it as she went down with a Porterville defender and closed the game in the 80th minute.
“We finally got the talking down, actually looking up and then we started passing more,” Mynderup said.
Hanford finished with 22 shots and 14 shots on goal. It was the team’s fifth shutout of the year and they’ve still only allowed one goal. The back line is young with only one senior, but it hasn’t mattered up to this point.
“We just work as a team together, talking and moving as one team,” Baylee said about the defense.