Goddard sophomore Christine Young, left, and Clovis’ Amanda Davis battle for the ball during the first half of Saturday’s match at the AYSO Soccer Complex. CNJ photo by Rick White
By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent
With his team coming off a three-win season and still painfully young, Clovis girls soccer coach Larry Jones said one of his biggest challenges in 2004 is getting his players to believe they can compete.
“I’m probably going to have to tell them to keep their heads up. When you get down, sometimes you say, ‘We can’t,’” Jones said. “But you’ve got to go out there and play. Anything can happen — especially in a soccer game.”
“We still have a lot of the people we had last year. As far as the varsity, I still think we’ve got potential,” said Shaina Usher, a senior defender for the Wildcats. “We need more effort. We could win more — and we could have last year, too.”
Usher is one of four seniors for Clovis, which has two juniors.
Usher is joined by fellow senior Julie Surina on the last line of defense, along with sophomores Jordan Garrett and Brittni Jimenez.
Kela Williams, another sophomore, is playing goalkeeper for the first time in high school action.
“Around two-a-days, I kind of suggested it to him (Jones),” Williams said. “I told him, ‘Coach, I’ve played goal before (in youth soccer), put me in goal.’”
The ’Cats midfield will be extremely young as three sophomores are joined by a freshman in the starting lineup. Cassie Belford, Calie Rush and Patrice Dykes saw action as freshmen last year and will play the middle with current frosh Lora Esquivel.
Junior Amanda Davis and senior Melissa Ridge are slated by Jones to be the starting forwards.
Clovis won three games in 2003 — against Las Vegas Robertson and Ruidoso twice. Both are Class 3A schools. The season began Saturday with a 7-1 home loss to Goddard and Clovis will try to rebound in its own eight-team tournament this weekend.
One of eight sophomores on the roster, Garrett said the younger players have bonded together with a focus on improving the team before they leave the high school.
“All of us sophomores have played together since we were like 8 years old,” Garrett said. “It’s real hard to get past the losing streak that we have. But, hopefully, this year we’ll break through.”