Physicality, defense and timely scoring was the theme of the day Friday at Clovis Community College as the Crush men’s soccer team tied the Taft College Cougars 1-1.
The Cougars and Crush also tied Oct. 8 at Taft in a similarly physical matchup.
A 50-50 jump ball in the fourth minute just outside Clovis’ 18-yard box resulted in a controversial foul call, setting up a free kick for Taft. Crush head coach Chad McCarty and his coaching staff were more than just a little upset, and to make matters worse, Taft capitalized.
Sophomore Johan Rodriguez calmly struck the ball into the lower-right corner of the net past goalkeeper Robby Rosas to give the Cougars the early advantage.
The Crush did their best to try and answer, but as was the case throughout most of the first half, the attack couldn’t find enough open pockets in between the Cougars defenders to get a great look at goal.
And whenever the team did get a decent opportunity, the shots would miss their mark.
Taft continued to employ its patented style of attack, playing long diagonal passes down the field in the hopes of catching the Crush defense napping, but it didn’t happen. Clovis was able to keep its back line coordinated and on the same level, building a wall that proved difficult to penetrate for the Cougars.
At halftime, the Crush had actually outshot the Cougars, but many of the attempts were not on target and did not require saving.
When the second half began, so did a new energy for the Crush attack. The offense seemed to be reinvigorated and it showed just a minute into the period when a Crush header sailed just inches over the crossbar.
Clovis held possession of the ball far more than the team did in the first half, resulting in more free kicks and play in Taft’s half of the pitch.
And in the 68th minute, the Crush finally caught the break that it had been desperately fighting to earn. A rough foul by the Cougars inside the box gave Clovis its most promising scoring opportunity of that match in a penalty shot.
After consulting with each other on the field, the Crush went with freshman Jordon Wilkins to take the penalty.
Wilkins didn’t disappoint as he cooly blasted the ball into the left corner of the net to tie the match at one.
Wilkins, ever confident, said there was never a doubt.
“I just think to myself that I am going to make this shot. It’s going in,” Wilkins said. “That’s the one thing in my mind is I’m going to score.”
Clovis created just one more quality scoring chance with yet another header over the crossbar, but the defense prevented Taft from generating any solid opportunities.
The Crush will look to generate a more positive result in the regular season finale when the team travels to West-Hills Lemoore Oct. 12 before the postseason begins.
“We’re expecting a tough battle,” McCarty said. “Hopefully we can get out and get a result and get into the playoffs and make a run.”