Johnny Martin | Reporter
The Clovis High Cougars defeated the Clovis North Broncos 3-1 to capture the Division I boys soccer valley title.
When the game first started, it had a Friday-night-lights feel to it. The north side of Lamonica Stadium had not been that full since the last Cougar football game and both teams fed off of that energy.
With the score tied 1-1 at the half, it quickly became a game of whoever would win the last 40 minutes would go home as a valley champion. The Cougars answered the call just 11 minutes into the second half as Rubehn Martinez was the recipient of a ricochet off of a shot by teammate Braedon Rouff. Martinez split two defenders and got just enough on the ball to push it into the back of the net.
“I saw my chance right there and I just had the mindset that no one is going to stop me on this play,” Martinez said. “I’m taking it all the way home on this play and that’s exactly what happened.”
Scoring the game-winning goal is nothing new to Martinez as it was his overtime goal in the quarterfinal matchup against Central that propelled Clovis into the semis.
The Cougars got a huge save from goalkeeper Evan Ghimenti in the 65th minute as he came up big, stopping a Clovis North 1-on-1 opportunity to preserve the 2-1 lead.
“I just saw it and read him real good,” Ghimenti said. “I thought he was going to try to do something fancy and I ended up just blocking it, shutting them down real quick.”
Clovis would add an insurance goal thanks to a great one-man effort by Rouff in the 74th minute. Rouff got free down the left side and was able to chip one in over the goalie, sealing the deal for the Cougars.
“It felt amazing,” Rouff said. “We’ve been training for this moment all year and we just needed to get to this point and it felt good to kind of put the icing on the top.”
Rouff had a point on each of the three Cougar goals on the night. His assist to Oscar Rubalcava in the first half lead to the first goal, his shot lead to Martinez’s rebound goal and then he was finally able to pick up a goal of his own, leading his team to a 3-1 victory.
The last time Clovis High won a valley championship in boy’s soccer, head coach Danny Amparano was a player on the team.
“It’s just emotional, I’ve known these boys since they were six, seven years old,” Amparano said. “We were one team with one dream and I knew they could do it and I just believed.”