The Clovis North girls soccer team has reached the Valley Championship game three times in the last five years. Each trip, however, has ended with heartbreak.
That was the case again in the Div. 1 Championship game against San Luis Obispo on Saturday, Feb. 23.
This time, the Broncos tried to rally from a 2-0 deficit. San Luis Obispo, however, held on for a 2-1 win to take the title.
While the Tigers reveled in their triumph, the Broncos players fell to the ground in despair. The home crowd, which had shown up in full force, gave the Broncos one last cheer in hopes of lifting their spirits.
“It always hurts when you come up a little short,” Clovis North head coach Nick Pappanduros said. “But we are always around every year. It says a lot about these kids and our program.”
The Broncos fell behind 1-0 in the 54th minute on a goal by senior Olivia Ortiz. Thirteen minutes later, the Tigers added a second goal. This time it was Molly Massman who curved a shot into the upper right corner.
In the 69th minute, a brief scuffle in the box resulted in a red card for the Tigers and a penalty kick for the Broncos. Senior Taylour Mendoza calmly netted the penalty, giving the Broncos a glimmer of hope.
The crowd desperately urged the Broncos to complete the comeback. The Tigers, however, refused to budge.
With the final minutes ticking away, the Tigers controlled the ball and denied the Broncos any chance at an equalizer.
“Their goal from day one was to get to this game and win it,” Pappanduros said. “They came up short, but they kept competing hard. Both teams did. That was a great game. That’s how a Valley Championship should be. It’s never easy.”
Five years ago, the Broncos lost the championship game 1-0 in triple overtime against Buchanan. In 2016, Clovis North suffered a 1-0 loss against Bullard in the Valley Championship.
“I’m so proud of the girls, especially these group of seniors,” Pappanduros said. “They really took over this team and just had a good vibe.”
The Broncos’ last Valley Championship came in 2012 when they were competing as a Div. II team.
“We’re gonna lose a few seniors, but we have a good foundation,” Pappanduros said. “We definitely expect to be back in this game next year.”