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HANFORD — Hanford West’s five-goal second quarter performance coupled with their stifling defense helped the team edge by Hanford in a 6-4 victory at Hanford High School on Thursday.

The Huskies were clinging to a 5-3 lead in the fourth quarter and had their advantage trimmed to one after Hanford’s Mia Gillum scored. But Hanford West’s Giselle Lafarga put the dagger in the net on a one-on-one fast break with 36 seconds to go in the match.

“Our coach really motivates us,” Hanford West’s Katie Kevorkian said. “She’s such a positive person and even if we did something wrong, she will tell us in a very honest way, but in a helpful way … so I feel with her energy and attitude really boosts our confidence and self-esteem to help us win.”

Hanford goalkeeper Gwen Gardner kept her team in the game with four great saves during the fourth, but it wasn’t enough as the offense failed to capitalize.

“I really look for the other team and how they’re set up,” Gardner said about her defensive prowess. “I figure out how our team is set up on them and I try and help them out as much as I can and if I can see the other team going somewhere I warn them before.”

Hanford West’s Eva McIlwaine scored a game-high three goals, which all came consecutively to start the second quarter. Giselle Lafarga scored two goals and Katie Kevorkian scored one.

Hanford West (3-0) is off to its best start since 2014 when they started the season 8-1. How much further the team can carry this winning streak is yet to be seen, but it’s clear the Huskies are a good team.

“It’s the attitude with everyone — not in a bad way,” Kevorkian said. “Our coach is really helping us, practices are really good, I just feel like it’s a good year for us.”

Hanford led 2-0 after the first quarter with goals by Gillum and Alexis Cano. The duo did all the scoring for the Bullpups with two goals apiece.

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“I saw an open side of the cage so I went for it,” Gillum said. “Their goalie wasn’t there so I got the ball and I shot.”

The Huskies heated up in the second with a 3-0 run by McIlwaine to take the lead. She scored on a man-up opportunity followed by a scramble in front of the net and another on a fast break. All three of her goals came in a span of two minutes, 19 seconds.

Kevorkian added to the lead after a pass from McIlwaine on the left wing allowed her to finish in front on a one-time touch. A fifth goal by Lafarga gave the Huskies a 5-2 advantage at halftime.

“We noticed some of our players were a little stronger than their defenders so I feel like we used that to our advantage to score some goals and get us in the lead,” Kevorkian said.

Just like the Huskies held the Bullpups scoreless during the second quarter, the opposite was true during the third. Cano scored her second goal of the match from two meters after Hanford West goalkeeper Kaytlyn Boling was excluded.

The Huskies scored only one goal in the second half, but their defense limited the Bullpups to only two second-half goals, which allowed them to hold on down the stretch.

“We are still growing and I believe in our team and I believe in a couple of game we’ll be there,” first-year head coach Megan LeVan said. “We’ve improved so much ever since the start of the season and I can’t thank the girls enough and I can’t thank my JV coach enough.”

Hanford has a home match against Kingsburg (1-1) next Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. Hanford West will face Monache (0-1) on the road next Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.

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Noe Garcia can be reached at (559) 583-2431 or ngarcia@hanfordsentinel.com. Follow Noe on Twitter at @noecarlosgarcia.

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