Cats advance to title game

Clovis’ Josh Bussen, left, and Ruidoso’s Lucas Lindsey go after the ball during the second half of their game during the Clovis Invitational Friday at the Yucca Soccer Complex. Clovis defeated Ruidoso 5-0. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Jesse Wolfersberger: CNJ staff writer

Clovis High School won its first two games of the season, earning a birth in the championship game of the Clovis Invitational tournament.

In the first game of the tournament and the 2005 season, the Wildcats thumped Ruidoso 5-0 at the Yucca Soccer Complex. The Wildcats dominated the game at both ends of the field, outshooting the Warriors 30-3.

“I really enjoyed how we controlled the tempo of the ballgame for the first 10 minutes of the game,” Clovis coach Shawn Gill said. “I think we came out really strong and dictated the play with short, quick passes. It’s a pretty good season opener.”

In the second match of the day, Aztec proved to be a bigger challenge for the Wildcats. It was an incredibly physical contest that was not decided until Clovis junior forward Scott Elliott score in the final minute to give the Wildcats a 3-2 win.

Down 2-1 with only 4:15 left to play, Clovis forward Angel Fernandez tied the game on a free kick from 25 yards out.
Fernandez said that he was relieved to help the team after being benched for the first half for showing up to the game late.

“When I came into the second half, I wanted to play my heart out,” Fernandez said. “I’ve practiced that shot so much and I make them all the time. I felt like, if I don’t make it, it’s on me. I kinda let my team down, so I had to make that goal.”
Elliott said Fernandez’ goal was the play that swung the momentum in Clovis’ favor.

“It was an extremely physical game,” Elliott said. “It was not looking good. Our hopes were down until Angel put one in.”

With 40 seconds left, Elliott netted the game winner off a rebound in the box. Elliott was also the star in the first game, scoring three goals.

Gill feels Elliott will have a strong season now that his knee is fully healthy.

“He was dominant down on the JV level as a freshman,” Gill said. “Last year he tweaked his knee a little bit and I feel like that held him back. He’s just now coming back to where he was. We are expecting only bigger and better things from him.”

Gill said his team was physically tired, but persevered for the victory.

“More than anything, we won that game on heart and desire. It wasn’t a pretty game by any means,” Gill said. “These guys showed more heart tonight than I’ve seen in the last four years. That is what its going to take to win in this district.”

Clovis will play in the championship game at 5 p.m. today against district rival Hobbs.

Clovis lost in overtime in last year’s championship game, but Gill said that this year’s team is better prepared.

“I think with the heart and the physicality of what they went through today, they have a better chance of persevering when it gets late in the game.”