Coming into Tuesday’s action, the Clovis West and Clovis East girl’s soccer teams possessed impressive records after successful preseasons.
The Golden Eagles entered TRAC play last week with a 11-2-1 while the Timberwolves went 12-2-1. However, once league action began, the teams moved in opposite directions.
Clovis West split two meetings against Clovis North and Central, while Clovis East lost to both Buchanan and Clovis North. That trend continued in the Golden Eagles’ road victory over the Timberwolves 2-0 Tuesday afternoon.
But for the first 20 minutes of the opening half, it looked as if the TImberwolves might just get the win they desperately needed.
Clovis East dominated possession of the ball, paying off with a free kick just outside the 18-yard box by forward Ashley Gardner, which forced goalkeeper Autumn Jensen to make a leaping save to keep the Timberwolves off the scoreboard.
From then on, though, the momentum completely switched sides.
The Golden Eagles were the ones on the ball for the majority of the rest of the half, and it nearly paid off in the 22nd minute when centerback Emily Berg banged a screamer of a shot off the crossbar from nearly 30 yards away.
She wouldn’t miss her next opportunity, however.
In the 40th minute, just before halftime, a scrum unfolded in the penalty box, bodies everywhere with no team able to gain possession until Berg got hold of the ball just enough from point-blank range to slot it just past Timberwolves goalie Cailen Bawdon.
Golden Eagles head coach Nikki Schrey knew that the goal was big for her team’s momentum going into the second half.
“It was definitely needed in terms of helping us into the second half,” Schrey said. “We knew the next 40 minutes were going to be a battle.”
The Golden Eagles did not seem to have its momentum fade from the goal, however. The team continued the theme of keeping possession and executing crisp passes to the wide areas of the field, limiting the Timberwolves opportunities to build up in the attacking third of the field.
A critical mistake in the Timberwolves own third proved to be the factor that would lead to the Golden Eagles’ next goal.
Forward Jill Penner, one of the biggest goal-scoring threats in the TRAC, essentially created her own chance by ricocheting an errant attempt to pass the ball upfield by the Timberwolves, leaving the ball out in front of her with nobody to beat but Bawdon.
Cool as you like, Penner deposited the ball into the corner of the net in the 65th minute to put the finishing touches on the victory.
Penner had no doubt that she would score.
“I like to be confident in front of the goal because in order to have composure you need to have confidence,” Penner said. “I just kind of told myself ‘you’re going to make it’ and I finished it.”
Both the ball and the Timberwolves prospects of a miraculous comeback went by the wayside.
The Golden Eagles now improve to 12-3-1 and 2-1 in TRAC play while the Timberwolves drop to 12-4-1 and 0-3 in TRAC.
Both teams resume Friday with Clovis West hosting the league-leading Buchanan Bears and the Timberwolves will head to Clovis to take on the fourth-place Cougars.