Clovis in Control of TRAC Destiny With Win Over Clovis North

Clovis players celebrate Kobe Irecheta’s goal in the 71st minute of Thursday’s home match against Clovis North. (Gabe Camarillo/Clovis Roundup)

Clovis High and Clovis North have developed one of the closest rivalries in Central Section boys’ soccer over the last four seasons.

Success on the pitch plays a big part in it. Clovis won an outright TRAC regular season title in 2017, both teams split the crown in 2018, and Clovis North won its first ever outright league title in 2020.

“Clovis has been our biggest rival and we’ve gone toe-to-toe with them over the years,” said Clovis North head coach Cameron Shahrokhi. “This Clovis-Clovis North game, just for the boys, has a little more meaning.”

Both teams met again at Lamonica Stadium on Thursday, with the winner in the driver’s seat for another outright TRAC title.

Clovis struck first with Ronald Rocha’s goal in the 16th minute and never looked back, scoring twice more in the second half and staving off Clovis North’s late comeback attempt in a 3-1 win.

The Cougars (15-1-1. 6-1-1 TRAC) take a one-game lead in the league standings over the Broncos (12-2-1, 5-2-1 TRAC) with two games to play. They played to a 1-1 draw in their previous meeting at Clovis North on April 20.

Thursday marked Clovis’ first win over Clovis North since January 30, 2018 — the past six matches have ended in four Clovis North wins and two ties.

“When I first got here [in 2011], they had control over the series,” said Clovis head coach Danny Amparano. “We took control of the series, and they just took it back recently. I feel like it’s always our two teams battling and, usually, something big happens between one of us.”

Clovis took a 1-0 lead into halftime and extended it in the 61st minute, when Alexandro Chavez headed a cross from Donnie Turner into the back of the net. It was Chavez’ third goal in two games after recording a brace against Buchanan on Tuesday.

“All year, we’ve been a very defensively sound team and the mistakes in the back have been very limited,” Shahrokhi said. “We chose a bad day to make a few too many mistakes in the back.”

The Cougars added extra insurance with a goal from Kobe Irecheta in the 71st minute. Clovis North senior Christian Silva was awarded a penalty kick a few minutes later, but sent it wide of the net.

Kian Kheradpir put the Broncos on the board in the 75th minute, but the frenzied comeback attempt fell short. Clovis’ defense, as it did for most of Thursday evening, held strong, even without the services of starting center back Greg Turner.

“We talked [pregame] about staying connected and making sure our rotations are good,” Amparano said. “Our biggest thing is, we have to continue to follow the plan and execute it, and I think these guys are a good group to be around. They love the game.”

Central lost 1-0 at Buchanan earlier in the day, pushing the Grizzlies to 4-4 in TRAC play. That result locks Clovis and Clovis North into the top two spots in the league standings.

Clovis can clinch an outright TRAC title with wins over Clovis East and Clovis West next week. A Clovis loss and two Clovis North wins next week would result in the two teams sharing the TRAC championship.

Gabriel Camarillo has written for the Clovis Roundup since August 2019 and follows high school athletics, Fresno State football and former Clovis Unified student-athletes. Gabe also writes for The Collegian as a staff sports writer and works at One Putt Broadcasting as a board op for 940 ESPN radio.