Tired and exhausted, the Clovis Cougars boys soccer team had every excuse to fall to an energetic Edison Tigers team.
Coach Danny Amparano would not hear any of it. He wanted answers for a team that played a sloppy first half.
Imploring his team to play together at halftime, Amparano knew of the harsh task his Cougars squad has faced this week.
“This is our fifth game in six days, so we are not at full strength,” Amaprano said. “We are trying to hang on [in the game] until we get the lead. We are having to run with it and play in some nail-biters.”
Nonetheless, Clovis held on and broke through with a late goal against Edison, winning 1-0 Friday morning.
Edison brought pressure on a sluggish Clovis midfield early and often with their counterattack, leading to multiple shots on goal for the Tigers
Yet Edison would not score on any of their early chances; One shot was saved by Clovis goalkeeper Vinny Sabbatini, while the others sailed outside the net.
Momentum turned late in the first half, as Edison suffered defensive lapses and gave Clovis hope with scoring chances.
Yet the Cougars soon tired and could not convert before the halftime whistle. An exciting first half ended in a scoreless draw.
After listening to Ampernao’s passionate halftime speech – in which the team was challenged to dig deep for inspiration – the Cougars made adjustments and looked re-energized in the second half.
Edison would not go away, however. The Tigers continued to attack relentlessly and came close to scoring many times; Sabbatini held strong and denied them with three saves to keep Edison off the scoreboard.
“I just love to do my part for the team. Everything I do is always for the team,” said Sabbatini.
The missed chances for Edison left the door open for Clovis; All the Cougars needed was the slightest opportunity given to them.
A defensive miscue by Edison gave the Cougars that opportunity.
It would be freshman Donovan Turner left open in front of goal with the game at his feet, and he would not miss his chance.
Turner knocked a goal in off a deflection, putting the Cougars ahead 1-0 with five minutes left. It would be the game-winner, as Edison could not recover with an equalizer in time.
The young freshman was stoic in his response to scoring his first career game-winner.
“I just had to go for it. I had to maintain myself and keep going. I couldn’t stop” Turner said.
Clovis won’t stop playing this weekend, as they continue in their home soccer tournament; All their games will take place at Lamonica Stadium, this Friday and Saturday.