By Johnny Martin | Reporter
The Clovis Community College men’s soccer team clinched a spot in the playoffs on Friday, Nov. 11 by defeating the Cougars of Taft College 2-1 at home in their final regular season game.
“The guys were excited to have an opportunity in our first year,” head coach Chad McCarty said. “We were pretty certain that a win would get us into the playoffs so that was what the goal was for the day and we came out and put together a good match.”
With their playoff spot on the line and having already tied Taft earlier in the season, the Crush came out with a new-found energy and intensity level that set the tone from the first whistle.
That energy lead to scoring opportunities for the Crush from the beginning and lucky for them Diego Banda was able to capitalize early on. He used a great individual effort to dribble around defenders and put his first goal of the season into the back of the net in just the 7th minute.
“I haven’t been able to score in so long,” Banda said. “I mean crossbar, close goalie block and it finally came on a really important game so it felt great.”
The Crush would maintain their intensity throughout the entirety of the first half and things began to get chippy because of it. The head referee gave three yellow cards in the first half, two to Clovis and one to Taft, but Clovis still maintained the 1-0 lead at the half.
The intensity continued right into the second half as Sergio Gonzalez found the back of the net in the 60th minute off a great team effort and build up. The chippy play, however, would also continue as Clovis would receive their third yellow card of the game leading to a Taft set piece just outside the 18.
That set piece would lead to a Cougar goal in the 64th minute, cutting the Crush lead to just 2-1.
Thanks to great play by their backline and goalkeeper Jose Barraza, the Crush would hold off an all-out effort by Taft and they’d walk away with the 2-1 victory, securing their spot in playoffs.
“Jose, he’s been our guy in the back most of the year,” McCarty said. “Him and Omar, they’ve both been pushing each other and Jose has made some big time saves. ‘He’s really composed, he’s a calm player which helps our young back line settle down when things get going crazy.’”
“We all love each other,” Banda said. “We want to keep playing together and take it as far as we can in playoffs and make a big run as underdogs and we want to win it.”
More information on the playoffs can be found at http://cccaasports.org/sports/msoc/index.