Eagles beat Cats to take title

Hobbs’ Chance Youngblood, left, and Clovis’ Scott Elliott chase down a loose ball during Saturday’s championship game of the Clovis Invitational soccer tournament at Yucca Complex. (CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Jesse Wolfersberger: CNJ staff writer

After advancing to the championship game with an emotional win, Clovis looked flat and disorganized Saturday in a 4-2 loss to district rival Hobbs.

After sophomore Luis Esparza opened the scoring for Clovis, the Eagles answered with a pair of goals in a two-minute span midway through the first half.

Freshman forward Jacob Ray netted two goals in the second half to bury the Wildcats in the title game of the Clovis Invitational.

Clovis coach Shaun Gill said the team allowed Hobbs to dictate the style of play.

“We got caught up in the Hobbs’ style of boot-and-run and we couldn’t get out of that,” Gill said. “We tried to do it with them, and they are better at it than us. We got sucked into their game.”

The Wildcats put together a run late in the second half, but for most of the game they were punchless.

Clovis junior Devin Aragon said that the Wildcats put things together late in the game, but it was not enough to pull out the win.

“We started moving the ball in the second half, but it was too late for the deficit we had,” Aragon said. “We had wonderful opportunities, but we never capitalized.”

Clovis (2-1) edged Aztec 3-2 Friday on a last-minute goal to reach the title game.

“We went from the highest of high to a low right now,” Gill said. “We peaked too soon. We peaked last night instead of peaking today in the championship.”

Juniors starters Scott Elliott and Josh Bussen were held out for the first 20 minutes of the match for discipline reasons, according to Gill.

The Clovis coach said he was pleased with how the bench stepped up.

“The guys that worked in there as role players did a fantastic job,” Gill said. “I’m pleased to death with their performance.”
Gill said the lineup change hurt the team mentally.

“It threw us out of sync,” Gill said “We were trying to hurry things. We weren’t playing our style of ball.”

Clovis junior Michael Hernandez echoed his coach’s evaluation of the game.

“We played an all right game,” said Hernandez, who played a strong defensive game and scored a goal despite a noticeable limp from a collision in the first half. “We got mad at each other so we didn’t play our game quite right. We got out of our game today. We were not passing like we’re used to.”

Hernandez was forced to leave the game after another collision in the second half.

Gill said he was impressed with Hernandez’ effort.
“He was obviously hurt,” Gill said. “But he was still able and willing to go in there. He played a fantastic game even though he was hobbling around on that right leg. That shows a lot of heart and a lot of character. He performed above and beyond what I expected of him today.”

Gill said that the loss is even tougher because of the fierce rivalry between the two schools.

“This is a tough loss, we always hate losing to Hobbs,” Gill said. “The guys especially hate losing to Hobbs because its a huge rivalry. We still have two chances at them in districts.”

Clovis Invitational
At Yucca Complex
Saturday’s games
Pool play
Artisia 8, Clovis JV 0
Aztec 4, Ruidoso 1
Fifth place
Ruidoso 4, Clovis JV 0
Third place
Aztec 8, Artisia 2
Championship
Hobbs 4, Clovis 2