The Clovis North boys, the highest ranked Clovis Unified team left standing, continue to push through the playoffs with a remarkable goal by a trustworthy senior.
With the score tied at one against No. 3 Bullard, with just over six minutes left in the second half in the Central Section D-I quarterfinals, Nathan Arnold crashed off a ball that was cleared after a corner kick and struck gold when he performed a rabona kick with his left from about four feet out.
“I was just thinking ‘we needed to score,’” Arnold said. “As the ball was getting hit around the box I saw where it was going to come out and I executed the shot. It just kinda happened as an instinct.”
The goal was just Arnold’s second of the year, but certainly the most important of the season.
“I was pumped for Nathan, he has been a workhorse for us all year,” Clovis North coach Cameron Shahrokhi said. “He is fearless and a big part of being successful on corner kicks is fearlessly attacking the ball.”
Sophomore Christian Silva scored within the first three minutes for a 1-0 lead in the high-intensity game, but Bullard (20-5-1) tied the score on an own goal.
However, Clovis North (13-3-4) stayed the course and didn’t get down on themselves, continuing to play at a high level throughout the match.
Shahrokhi, in his third year as the Broncos head coach, made a point to stop Bullard’s fast front runners.
“I thought we were very organized and defended well as a unit,” he said. “A key point for us was defending the long ball and set pieces were a big point for us heading into playoffs.”
It certainly worked out for the Broncos, especially the game-winner from Arnold that started from a corner kick by Luis Castillo.
“This win is huge for us in trying to get to our third appearance in a row to the Valley championship,” Arnold said. “My team and I bought into our coach and each other and I think that’s what gave us the edge in the game.”
The Broncos lost 2-1 to Sunnyside in last year’s D-I final as the No. 1 seed and 3-1 to Clovis in the 2017 final as a No. 6.
The finals are scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 23 at the higher seed’s home field.