The Tri-River Athletic Conference kicked off boys’ soccer action Tuesday with two wins and a tie. In a league expected to be as competitive as ever, six wins is potentially enough to win the TRAC. Central and Clovis West got off on the right foot, while Buchanan and Clovis East battled to a draw and earned a point apiece.
Buchanan 0, Clovis East 0
Clovis East and Buchanan entered their match with identical 9-2-1 records. They left the Clovis East pitch, once again, sharing the same record after a 0-0 tie.
The Timberwolves had multiple scoring chances throughout the match, “about seven clear looks” according to Buchanan head coach Edison Gonzalez. Clovis East even received a penalty kick after Buchanan goalkeeper Elmer Calballo fouled Andrew Huerta in the box with five minutes to go in regulation.
Calballo exited due to the foul, and backup keeper Jaden Chu stepped up to block Huerta’s penalty. Calballo re-entered the game three minutes later and completed the shutout through overtime.
“I’ll tell you, give credit to Jaden,” Gonzalez said. “This guy is engaged in the game, a good teammate, and he was right here ready to go. That’s all you can ask for… He kept us in the game, 100 percent.”
Although Clovis East dominated possession and scoring chances for much of regulation, Buchanan came on strong late in the second half and into overtime. The draw, in Gonzalez’s eyes, is a “good result” considering the Bears went 1-9 in the TRAC last spring.
“To get a tie against a really tough team like Clovis East, it’s a big confidence booster for us,” Gonzalez said.
Clovis West 2, Clovis North 0
Clovis West recorded its ninth clean sheet of the season and scored in the first 10 minutes of the match, defeating host Clovis North, 2-0, to open TRAC play.
Junior midfielder Logan Elkington scored early, and senior wing Moses Hernandez tacked onto the lead midway through the second half. It was a clinical win for Clovis West (12-3-1), which has won seven of its last eight matches. Part of that hot streak includes wins over TRAC foe Clovis East and Reedley, the only Central Section team to defeat Central so far this season.
“All of our pre-season games and pre-season learning experiences are done, so there is some added pressure because anything can happen in TRAC,” said Clovis West head coach Ivan Janssens. “We were able to stay really well-composed through all of it.”
Clovis West matched its highest win total since the 2012-13 season, a sign of the upward trajectory Janssens has set for the program. His eyes are not looking back at the past, either; instead, they’re looking forward to the next game.
“I’m not going to look at our wins or what our records are until the season is done,” Janssens said. “Only thing that matters is the next game.”
Central 2, Clovis 0
Central extended its unbeaten streak to 12 games with a 2-0 overtime victory over Clovis High Tuesday at Koligian Stadium.
After scoreless regulation that included several close chances for both sides, Central broke through with three minutes remaining in the first overtime period. After a cross into the box resulted in a shot bouncing off the post, junior midfielder Angel Rocha followed up and scored the first goal.
In the second overtime period, as Clovis aggressively pursued a tie, senior striker Marcus Flores sent a shot 40 yards into the back of the net to seal Central’s (12-2-1) victory.
Clovis (6-9-2), the defending Division-I champion who defeated Central in the title game last May, has been hurt by injuries and missing stars this season. Head coach Danny Amparano said signs of a turnaround were evident in the loss.
“The boys on the sideline were the most motivated I’ve seen them, the most engaged I’ve seen them,” Amparano said. “It was a new season, and I think everyone feels that in the TRAC.”
Clovis East at Clovis North, 3:00 p.m.
Central at Clovis West, 5:30 p.m.
Buchanan at Clovis, 5:30 p.m.