Sports can be certainly be cruel. One minute momentum is on your side, the thrill of victory well within your grasp and the next, you’re devastated and in shock, the sting of defeat knocking you to your knees leaving you wondering what just happened.
And the Clovis North boys soccer team surely felt the full gamut of emotions after freshman phenom Christian Silva scored an equalizer in stoppage time in the D-I Central Section championship game against Sunnyside – a right footed blast that left two Wildcat defenders laying in his wake, setting off a massive celebration after the Broncos tied the game 1-1 in front of an overflow crowd at home.
But the excitement would soon be turned to heartache as No. 2-seeded Clovis North was stunned by No. 8 Sunnyside when Melvin Alas scored in the waning seconds of the second golden goal overtime as the Wildcats captured the D-I Central Section title in a 2-1 victory.
“I thought we came out in overtime with a little bit of edge and Sunnyside probably felt like they had lost the match by giving up the late goal,” Clovis North coach Cam Shahrokhi said. “I thought the momentum would carry over and it did. I thought we controlled the overtime and that was Sunnyside’s only chance in overtime … it ended up in the net on a great play.”
After regulation, both teams went scoreless during two 10-minute overtime periods.
Clovis North (20-4-2) controlled the game throughout with a possession-oriented game plan, trying to negate the speedy forwards of North Yosemite League champion Sunnyside (21-4-2), and it worked for the most part to a scoreless first half 0-0 tie.
But Sunnyside would break through with 18:07 left in the second half when Josh Zambrano was clipped by Clovis North sophomore goalie Cooper Wenzel while rushing to the ball, setting up a penalty kick that Zambrano placed perfectly low on the left side with his left foot for a 1-0 lead.
“Our game plan was executed to a T,” Shahrokhi said. “We wanted to keep possession of the ball, we wanted to control the pace of the game, and we wanted to make sure we were in the right spots defensively. I thought we executed great.
“In overtime, we got back to our game plan but unfortunately we couldn’t get that clear chance and put it away.”
Silva’s goal was set up from a pass from senior Theo Nwajei and was his 21st of the season, a remarkable number for a freshman.
The two teams played to a 1-1 tie back on Dec. 22 and there was a certain familiarity as opposing head coaches – Clovis North’s Shahrokhi and Sunnyside’s Fabian Rangel – were teammates at Fresno City College.
The game marked the end of a successful season for Clovis North, who shared a TRAC title with Clovis at 9-1.
“The amount of growth that these kids went through and the development I saw from some of these young men not only physically but mentally was tremendous,” Shahrokhi said. “We use the word ‘family’ that a lot of teams throw around but we really talk about what it means to be a family, and we were a family all season long.
“I don’t think that goal against us that ended our season makes it not a successful season. It truly was a great season.”