The last time the Clovis High girls’ soccer team took the pitch at Lamonica Stadium, they walked off it as Division-II regional state champions.
That was over a year ago.
With a 2020 state championship banner hanging over them, the Cougars won their 2021 season home opener on Wednesday, defeating the Buchanan Bears, 2-1.
Clovis (6-1, 1-1 TRAC) rebounded from a 1-0 overtime loss at Central on Monday. Head coach Ian Lynch said Wednesday’s win was another example of the Cougars’ response to adversity.
“I’ve been here for a year and a half now and I told these girls before the game that every single time our back has been against the wall, we’ve shown our character,” Lynch said. “There’s not a team I’d rather be around of, as far as having our backs against the wall.”
“Tonight, all they did was prove me right.”
Clovis struck first in the fifth minute when sophomore Jada Hardwick unleashed a shot from far outside the penalty box. It bounced into the goal off the left post, giving the Cougars an early 1-0 lead.
“[Jada] just has a knack for popping up in the right place at the right time and taking advantage of it,” Lynch said.
Clovis dominated possession for most of the first half, but Buchanan scored an equalizer in the 31st minute. Buchanan’s Avery Chaney fired a shot just inside the penalty box.
The ball sailed over the leaping glove of Clovis’ goalkeeper and into the net, tying the game at 1.
It was one of the few balls that made it through Clovis’ back line of defense during the first half. Buchanan head coach Jasara Gillette credited the Bears’ selfless play for the goal and their improved second-half play.
“We are really a team instead of an individual,” Gillette said. “If you look at our scoring, we have about eight different girls with a goal.”
The Bears field three to four upperclassmen, according to Gillette, while the rest of the starters are underclassmen.
“We’re really young, but I love the way that our players stepped up in the second half and we started to dictate play,” Gillette said.
Buchanan nearly took the lead in the 62nd minute when a shot attempt deflected off the right post. A Buchanan player was tackled inside the penalty box a few minutes later, but no foul was called.
In the 67th minute, Clovis senior Samantha Tristan chased a ball inside the penalty box and fell after being fouled. She was awarded a penalty kick as a result.
“One call gets called one way and one doesn’t get called. There’s not much that you can do about it,” Gillette said. “You can’t walk away from the game upset because I feel like the girls gave what they had and we had lots of opportunities.”
Tristan converted on her opportunity, scoring the penalty kick for Clovis’ game-winning goal.
“You don’t ever want to get ahead of yourself, but you feel pretty comfortable when Sam Tristan steps to the ball in the box,” Lynch said. “She sets the marker here as far as putting the ball in the back of the net, so you’ll take your chances with her stepping up to a penalty.”
It was Tristan’s first goal at Lamonica Stadium since she scored twice in the D-II state championship game last March.
Clovis will meet Clovis North (5-0, 2-0 TRAC) at Lamonica next Wednesday. Buchanan (4-1, 1-1 TRAC) will host Central next Tuesday.
Other TRAC girls soccer final scores from Wednesday:
Clovis North 2, Clovis East 0
Central 3, Clovis West 0