Clovis eighth-grader Scott Clark (left), playing for the Clovis High junior varsity, battles junior Matt Gembrecht of the varsity for possession of the ball during Saturday’s fifth-place match in the Clovis Invitational at Yucca Soccer Complex.
Clovis High boys soccer coach Shaun Gill said prior to the start of the Wildcat Invitational at Yucca Soccer Complex that he wouldn’t mind a CHS varsity-junior varsity match in the final round.
Of course, it would’ve been nicer if it had been for the championship.
Instead, the teams met in the fifth-place match, where the Clovis junior varsity gave the varsity all they could handle. The outcome was in doubt until Terrance Speice scored in the final two minutes to lock up a 4-2 varsity win.
Both Clovis teams went 0-2 in pool play.
Alamogordo took the tournament title, beating Hobbs in penalty kicks 4-2 after the teams played to a scoreless tie through two overtimes. Los Lunas shut out Roswell 3-0 for third place.
Both Gill and Clovis JV coach Joe Aragon thought their squads played better against each other than they did in pool play, mainly because they were more relaxed.
“Our guys are (largely) eighth and ninth graders playing in a varsity tournament,” Aragon said. “They were nervous playing against Hobbs and Los Lunas.
“We talked before this game and said we can play with anyone, but we can’t beat anyone if we’re afraid.”
The JV scored first about 15 minutes into the match on a shot by freshman Scott Elliott. But the Clovis varsity rallied back on goals by Kiko Valez and Michael Fernandez — the latter on a header off a cross from Jacob Vasquez — to take a one-goal lead into halftime.
Junior Matt Loewen’s goal with about 28 minutes left finally gave the varsity some breathing room, but the JV made things interesting when sophomore James Gant blasted down the middle to score with just under six minutes left.
“We were working better, passing better and talking better,” Gill said of the varsity’s effort. “We had a lot of scoring opportunities that we should have (converted); we just need to work on finishing those plays.
“But if we’d done a lot of these things yesterday, we’d have been more competitive.”
The varsity lost its pool matches on Friday against Roswell 3-1 and Alamogordo 4-0. The JV was beaten by Hobbs 10-0 and Roswell 8-0.
Roswell scored in the first minute of play against the varsity Cats, and it stayed 1-0 until the middle of the second half. The Coyotes added a third goal with about five minutes to go before Kendal Essex scored for Clovis in the final minute on a penalty kick.
“That (first Roswell goal) kind of put us on our heels,” Gill said. “We played defensively pretty much the rest of the game. We were reactionary instead of controlling the pace of the game.”
Alamogordo, which lost to Clovis in the same round last year for the Cats’ lone victory of the season, put a senior-laden, speedy team on the field and opened a 3-0 halftime lead.
“We played much better in the second half,” Gill said. “They scored one goal that I felt wasn’t an ‘earned’ goal.
“We had some mental breakdowns that gave them two of their four goals.”