Clovis High boys soccer coach Greg Trujillo would love to see his team get out of the first round of the Class 5A state tournament.
For the fourth year in a row, Trujillo will lead the Wildcats into the opening round when they face fifth-seeded Cibola (14-4) at 6 p.m. today at the APS soccer complex in Albuquerque.
While the Cats (8-12) were able to capture the District 4-5A title with a 3-1 mark, their eight losses by one goal saddled them with a sub-.500 record and the last seed in the 12-team event.
Trujillo is hoping his team’s challenging schedule will pay dividends.
“I want to get past that first round,” he said. “We’ve been on the road quite a bit. We took the No. 1 team, Albuquerque High, into overtime, so anything can happen.
“If we come out with the intensity we had in the last two matches (wins over Carlsbad and Hobbs at home), we should be all right.”
The Cougars, though, present a difficult challenge. They’ve allowed only 19 goals all season, including no more than one in 12 matches.
Freshman Zechariah Middleton leads Cibola with 11 goals and has added five assists, while junior midfielder Sergio Rivas has seven goals and a team-high 15 assists. The goalkeeper is senior Xavier Diaz.
“Defensively, they’re sound, but where they’re really good is in the midfield,” Trujillo said. “They’re trying to get you out of position (to make an attack).
“They’re really patient on their attack, but I think they’re susceptible to a counterattack.”
Clovis, led by senior forward-midfielder Darrien Whiting’s 16 goals, has actually outscored the Cougars by three goals for the season.
The Cats had a relatively tough time in claiming the district title, losing at Carlsbad and beating Hobbs twice by a goal, including once on penalty kicks. But with all three teams well under .500, that’s the only way they would’ve qualified for state.
The final three rounds of the tournament will be played at the APS soccer complex. Tonight’s winner takes on fourth-seeded Volcano Vista in an 8:15 p.m. match on Thursday.
(9) La Cueva at (8) Atrisco Heritage, 3:30 p.m.
(12) Clovis at (5) Cibola, 6 p.m.
(11) Valley at (6) Sandia, 6:30 p.m.
(10) Highland at (7) Las Cruces High, 7 p.m.