A No. 4 seed was never an issue for the Clovis girls polo team as the Cougars went on the road to beat No. 1 Clovis West then No. 2 Sanger 5-4 to win the D-I Central Section championship, withstanding a furious Apache third quarter and riding the strong arm of Abby Mammen’s four goals.
Holding a 3-1 lead into halftime, Sanger came out firing in the third quarter and took a 4-3 lead heading into the fourth quarter, seven minutes from the school’s first Division I title.
But, Mammen had other ideas as the junior scored off a counter attack goal and steal and assist from Kiki Finley. She scored the final goal after a foul outside 5 meters.
“[This feeling is] indescribable,” said Mammen. “Words cannot express the emotions that are running through my head. I am so proud of my teammates and coaching staff. It’s great seeing all of our hard work pay off and I couldn’t be more proud of my Clovis High team.”
For Clovis (20-13), getting to the championship game was a familiar one; the Cougars have been to nine straight Valley title games, winning five of them. The four seed beat No. 1 Clovis West 5-3 in the quarterfinals, breaking a string where they had met the Golden Eagles in the finals eight consecutive years.
And how about this – Clovis West beat Clovis twice during TRAC play by scores of 9-7 and 6-4. Clovis beat Sanger (26-6) handily two times, 6-2 and 8-2.
“That was their best game of the season,” said Clovis head coach Noah Minton about the playoff win over Clovis West. “The rivalry has been intense over the last nine years. They know that and played a great game all around.
“When you’re close in ability to your opponent, any of these games could go either way, really. We just played a little better than our opponents for those big games.”
And the atmosphere in the championship game at Sanger was top-notch, loud and boisterous student sections for both teams made it nearly impossible for players to hear instructions from their coaches.
Goalie Emily Lancaster was stellar in the cage and captains Shelby Vidmar and Anna Brazill played an important role communicating the Cougars’ team offense and defense in the game. Freshman Libby Alexander scored Clovis’ other goal in the first period.
Minton also noted the positive influence assistant coach Hilary Whelan brought to the team, bringing the team together and helping to improve the squad’s in-game communication.
“After losing 12 seniors last year, we knew that in order for our young team to be successful we would have to come together as a team quickly,” said Mammen. “As a team we look at each other as being one big family. We all love and care about each other – we are teammates and best friends.”