By Paul Meadors | Sports Editor
So, you’re Clovis West, playing rival and defending champion Clovis in the Division 1 Valley championship match and find yourself down 3-1 in the second period on the road in a highly intense and physical game.
- Panic, sound the alarm, become flustered
- Swim to the corner of the pool, curl up in a ball and sink
- Shoot four-point goals (yes, I know there are none)
- Remain calm, trust your teammates, stick to the gameplan and play some “D”
The answer is, of course, is “D” and the Golden Eagles, gunning for their 13th Central Section girls’ water polo title, rode the strong play of senior Maddie Loggins and received clutch goals by Caitlyn Snyder and outstanding goaltending from Hannah Duggins, outscoring Clovis 3-1 in the fourth period on their way to a 9-7 victory and the Division 1 Central Section title.
“Down two goals I felt like we were OK, we were playing well offensively but we needed to tighten up some things defensively,” said Clovis West coach Scott Torosian. “We talked about if they got on a little run to not panic, stick with what we were doing and we’ll come out OK in the end.”
And you bet – the end was simply A-OK.
After Clovis senior Trystyn Vuori’s goal made the score 3-1, Clovis West (21-10) countered with goals from Lisa Moreno and Loggins for the equalizer. The game was tied 4-4 at halftime and 6-6 entering the fourth.
Then it was Snyder, also a decorated member of Clovis West’s swim team, scoring the game-winner from about 10-meters out on the right side for a 7-6 lead with 5:25 left, a lead they would never relinquish.
“Words cannot express how happy I am right now,” said Snyder. “When we were in the pool I just looked at my teammates and we all had huge smiles on our faces because we knew we had done it.”
And for Loggins, who’s committed to Fresno State, the defensive specialist rose to the occasion scoring Clovis West’s first goal, the game-tying, and the final goal to give her Golden Eagle team a three goal lead at 9-6 with 1:35 left.
“It was the will to not lose, so I was telling myself I need to score these for the team,” said Loggins when asked what was going through her mind during the game. “Tomorrow morning when I wake up and see this hat [that says Valley champion] I’ll say to myself ‘we did it.’”
Along with Snyder’s two goals, Moreno also tallied two and senior goalie Duggins registered seven saves.
But it was Loggins, normally a defensive specialist, who stepped up her offensive game for the most important game of the year.
“She stepped up when we needed her to, she’s a defensive-first player, she’s thrives on defense,” said Torosian, the Clovis West coach in his 12th year. “ The coaching staff – Matt Brooks and Derek Kisling – they’ve been working with her all season long. When it was her moment and her turn she did it. I was proud of her.”
Clovis received the No. 1 based on beating Clovis West twice during the season, once way back on Sept. 9 in a tournament and on Nov. 2 to tie for the TRAC title, both at 9-1. The Golden Eagles beat the Cougars 8-7 on Oct. 11.
“We are bummed we didn’t come out on top, but they played a good game and anything can happen in a Valley championship game,” said Clovis head coach Noah Minton, whose team ended up 23-8 on the season. “These championship games are really exciting and could go either way.”
Clovis star Callie Woodruff was a bright spot for the Cougars, scoring four goals while Raylene McVicar and Anna Brazill each scored one.
“This group of girls has bought in from day one, getting them to believe in themselves was the key for us.” said Torosian, still soaked after the game due to the tradition of jumping into the pool after a Valley championship win. “They truly did that. That’s why they got to this point.”