On the morning of the Central Section Division-I girls’ soccer championship game, Logan Nidy woke up and knew it was time for revenge.
Nine months earlier, Nidy and the Buchanan girls’ soccer team played in this exact game against the same opponent – Clovis North. They walked off the field heartbroken as Clovis North won the 2021 title on its home field.
Moments after the championship game last year, Buchanan head coach Jasara Gillette said the Bears, then young and relatively inexperienced to the big stage, would be back there with confidence.
Fast forward to Saturday, Nidy woke up and never felt a shred of doubt about how the rematch would end.
“I’ve been thinking about it for months now,” Nidy said. “I knew we were going to win this game. This was our game, and it felt sweet that it was here [at home].”
No. 1 seed Buchanan defeated No. 3 Clovis North, 2-1, in overtime Saturday to win its 12th Central Section girls’ soccer title in program history, the last coming in 2018.
Just like at Clovis North last year, the atmosphere at Buchanan High School was championship-worthy. Both school’s fanbases turned out in droves. From wall to wall, every inch of grass outside the field boundary was covered by spectators.
“To win on your home turf is amazing,” Gillette said. “We got TRAC this year, Valley, and now we’re working to make a push in State.”
Both sides were scoreless in the first half, but Buchanan broke through with a goal from Jessica Montelongo early in the second.
Clovis North junior Braedyn Kincade scored the equalizer in the 55th minute. Although both sides had several close scoring chances in the final 25 minutes of regulation, the title game went to overtime tied at 1.
Within 30 seconds of the first extra period, Buchanan senior Ciara Wilson was left one-on-one with a defender. Wilson, who will play at Fresno State in the fall, took advantage.
She unleashed a right-footed shot that bounced off the hands of the diving Clovis North goalkeeper and into the net. Her game-winner held up after several game-tying attempts from Clovis North came up short.
“I think [Wilson] has been the MVP all season,” Gillette said. “She’s been able to play defense and forward. You saw her make big plays out on defense and score a winning goal. There’s so few players that can switch in a game between two positions and play so well in them. And her heart for the team – she wanted it so bad.”
Wilson broke down in tears of joy afterward while talking about her teammates.
“This is the best high school team I’ve ever played for,” Wilson said. “We’re always working hard. We love each other so much. I’m getting emotional because this is the best feeling. I can’t even describe it.”
Buchanan (18-2-1) learned of its state seeding Sunday. The Bears are the No. 3 seed in the Division-I NorCal regional bracket and will host No. 6 Whitney Tuesday, March 1 at 3 p.m. Clovis North (20-3-1) is the No. 5 seed in the same bracket and will travel to No. 4 Mountain View at the same date and time.
Both teams made the state’s top bracket after one of the most intense Central Section girls’ soccer finals in recent memory, given the college-level talent on both sides and history between the two programs.
Gillette knew the title game rematch with Clovis North was coming before everyone else did.
In fact, she predicted it less than 10 minutes after the first meeting.
On that date – May 29, 2021 – Gillette said, “I think that this won’t be the last time you see us here in the championship.”
She kept her word.