A strong second half effort lifted the Clovis High School boys soccer team to a 2-1 win against Buchanan at Lamonica Stadium on Friday, Jan. 5.
The Cougars went down 1-0 in the first half, but scored two second half goals to rescue a win against their rival in the first game of league play.
“Hats off to Buchanan,” said Clovis senior Rubehn Martinez. “They caught us by surprise in the first half, but championship teams don’t just fall off after one half. We came back.”
Martinez engineered the equalizer in the second half when he capitalized on a one-on-one opportunity against the goalkeeper. The senior then took off his shirt as he celebrated and was given a yellow card.
Still tied 1-1 in the late stages, the Cougars found themselves knocking on the door again and again. The breakthrough finally arrived in the final minute from Clovis senior Hugo Mendoza, who scored with a header off a corner kick.
“I think we played fine in the first half,” Clovis head coach Danny Amparano said. “I just told the boys, ‘be patient, put the ball back on the ground and play our game.’ I think you can tell in the second half that we imposed our will.”
Last season, the Bears lost 2-1 against the Cougars, then avenged the loss a few weeks later with a 4-0 win. The Cougars went on to win the Central Section Championship, while the Bears lost in the semifinals.
“Two of the top teams in the Valley. It has been a rivalry over the last couple of years,” Buchanan head coach John Spurgeon said. “It’s the first game. Nobody is gonna win the TRAC in the first game of the season, so we find out what we are about, we find out what they are about and go about our business after that.”
The two teams will meet again at Buchanan on Jan. 23 for a 3 p.m. match.
“We just have to be better at finishing games,” said Buchanan junior Tyler Ferguson. “It’s the first game of the season, so it’s just a learning experience. We just know that we have to close out games harder.”
Ferguson scored the game’s first goal after receiving a flick-pass from senior Austin Roberts.
“It was what we expected,” Amparano said. “Two heavyweights battling in the first game of the TRAC this year. It’s always much anticipated.”