Clovis High’s Juan Gonzales, left, battles for possession of the ball with Carlsbad’s Wesley Burnett during Wednesday’s District 4-5A boys soccer match at Yucca Soccer Complex. (CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle)
By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
With their best record in years, the Clovis High boys soccer team entered District 4-5A competition with high hopes.
Two home losses have dampened the Wildcats’ enthusiasm for the moment, and they are faced with the prospect of bouncing back on the road.
Senior forward Wesley Burnett scored two second-half goals, including the game-winner with less than five minutes left, to lift Carlsbad to a 2-1 victory in the Cats’ home finale Wednesday at the Yucca Soccer Complex.
Home pitch has meant nothing so far in the three-team district. The Cavemen (12-5, 2-0) have won twice on the road, while Hobbs inflicted a 2-0 loss on the Cats (12-4-1) Saturday in Clovis.
“I felt we outplayed them, especially in the first half,” CHS coach Shaun Gill said. “We controlled the pace of the game, and we were passing well. We just weren’t getting the shots that we needed.
“They’re very fast up front. I felt our defense played a good game and contained them.”
The match was scoreless until Burnett raced down the left side and slipped a shot past CHS goalkeeper Josh Bussen about two minutes into the second half.
He got another one-on-one opportunity later when a defensive mistake forced Bussen to come out and challenge him. Bussen stopped the initial shot, but was left out of position and Burnett easily knocked in the rebound with 4:48 to go.
“It was a (defensive) miscommunication,” Gill said. “But that happens. I felt Josh had some huge saves tonight to keep us in the game.”
Carlsbad coach Fred Ongaga realized it was a tough situation for Bussen on whether or not to come out on Burnett.
“If the goalkeeper had come up earlier, we wouldn’t have scored,” he said. “We were just very fortunate on that play.”
Clovis tied the score with just under 17 minutes to go after a foul gave the Cats a penalty kick from about 35 yards out. Senior midfielder Angel Fernandez launched the ball into a maze of players in front of the net, and sophomore midfielder Alejandro Rascon knicked the ball past Carlsbad keeper Jamin Daly and into the right corner of the net.
Clovis, which beat the Cavemen 1-0 earlier this season in a tournament at Roswell, gets another crack at them Saturday in Carlsbad.
“It’s always a dogfight when we come here,” Ongaga said. “This game could’ve gone either way.
“They (Cats) have some good forwards. All we asked the guys to do was to try to contain them.”
Ongaga said his team relies on speed to get the job done.
“The only advantage we have (over Clovis) is speed,” he said. “Wesley’s speed is very good.
“The way the game was going tonight, I thought it might go to penalty kicks.”
In the junior varsity preliminary, Colin Welsh scored a pair of goals to lead the Cats to a 3-0 win over Carlsbad. Skye Brown had the other Clovis tally