Clovis High senior Luis Miranda, center, goes up for a header over Everardo Dominguez, left, and Taylor Burnett during a corner-kick drill Thursday at Yucca Soccer complex. (CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle)
By Greg Price: CNJ correspondent
A late-season 1-0 loss to rival Hobbs cost the Clovis High boys soccer team a District 4-5A championship and its first postseason berth in six years.
The Wildcats are hoping to use that loss as motivation for the 2006 campaign.
Fifth-year coach Shaun Gill, who last season earned his first winning record (10-9) since taking over the program, believes with 10 returning seniors the team is a month ahead of where it was at this time a year ago. Clovis finished in a three-way tie for the District 4-5A title at 2-2 last season, but was the odd team out of the playoff race.
“What we need to be focused on is not panicking,” Gill said. “We need to play our style of ball, controlled soccer.”
Senior goalkeeper Josh Bussen noted the team has gradually improved on its win total under Gill, and said the players appreciate him.
“This year we’ve got a lot more camaraderie and experience, and we’re closer as a team,” Bussen said. “At the end of last year, we kind of fell apart. I think we’re a lot more mentally strong.
“We have 10 starting seniors, so we have a lot of leaders. We have our style of play and we get sucked into playing another team’s style, so we need to play our style of game to control the pace.”
Senior defender Jayme Nauman acknowledged the loss to Hobbs has motivated the team this season.
“I’d say we lost hope after the Hobbs game,” Nauman said. “I felt we had a strong team, and we could’ve finished on top (in the district).”
Gill said the Cats’ senior-laden midfield is where the team’s strength lies on offense.
Seniors Devin Aragon, Luis Miranda and Angel Fernandez will look to move the ball from the midfield to senior forward Scott Elliott for scoring opportunities.
Still, the Wildcats can’t forget about playing defense, Gill said.
Nauman and Michael Hernandez co-anchor the Cats’ defense.
In a scrimmage against CHS alumni last week, Gill said the Cats’ defense was “outstanding,” and he noted how newer varsity players also excelled.
“Our team’s chemistry is very good right now,” Gill said.
The Wildcats host the Wildcat Invitational tournament this weekend at Yucca Soccer Complex.
“We just have to stay focused, not let things off the field district us and get things done,” Nauman said.
At Yucca Soccer Complex
Pool A — Clovis, New Mexico Military Institute, Deming.
Pool B — Hobbs, Roswell Goddard, Aztec.
1 p.m. — Hobbs vs. Goddard
3 p.m. — Clovis vs. NMMI
5 p.m. — Hobbs vs. Aztec
7 p.m. — Clovis vs. Deming-x
8 a.m. — Aztec vs. Goddard
10 a.m. — Deming vs. New Mexico Military Institute
1 p.m. — Consolation game (3rd in each pool)
3 p.m. — Third-place game (2nd in each pool)
5 p.m. — Championship (1st in each pool)
x-Field 2; all other matches on field 1.