Clovis West High did what Clovis North couldn't -- score with the wind -- and the result was a 1-0 victory Tuesday that blew the Golden Eagles into the Central Section's Division I boys soccer championship.
Selvin Torres' 22-yard, left-footed laser shot with seven minutes remaining made the difference in horrendous weather conditions, as eighth-seeded Clovis West (11-8-2) delivered its second straight upset on the road.
"I'm so happy and proud of my school," the senior said after going with his opposite foot for only his fourth goal of the season.
The Eagles, coming off a 2-1 conquest of top-seeded Bakersfield, will gun for their eighth section title Friday at 7 p.m. against the winner of tonight's game, matching No. 3 Madera at No. 2 Central.
Central is seeking its first section boys soccer championship and Madera its second, having won in 1998, according to section historian Bob Barnett.
The key for Clovis West in an afternoon game struck with piercing wind and increasing rain that dropped the wind-chill temperature to 40 degrees was escaping with a scoreless first-half tie minus senior star Jameson Ruppel while playing against the wind.
Clovis North, which went 0-1-1 against the Eagles in the Tri-River Athletic Conference, controlled the ball in Clovis West's half of the field throughout the first 40 minutes
But the Broncos -- 2012 section D-II champions -- missed prime scoring opportunities when Mason Gonzalez's breakaway shot was swallowed by Eagles goalie Petar Repar and, later, when Estevan Salgado kissed the net outside of the cage's left side.
Then, in a complete reversal -- as directly related to the wind howling to the west -- Clovis West controlled the ball on the Broncos' end for virtually all of the second half.
"It was definitely harder to get the ball upfield in the second half," Clovis North four-year varsity player Cameron Taffera said, "but we can't make excuses; we lost fair and square. I mean, we had the wind in the first half and we couldn't score, so it was fair."
Equally as important for the Eagles in playing with the wind at their backs in the second half was the return of Ruppel, their most dominant player and standing a head above everyone else at 6 feet, 4 inches.
He scored the winning goal against Bakersfield, but was later ejected with a red card.
CIF rules call for an automatic one-game suspension, but Clovis West appealed and partially won as Ruppel was prohibited from playing only the first half against Clovis North.
And it was Ruppel who assisted the goal of Torres, who fired from a left angle when he saw oncoming Broncos goalie Tomaso Ferri.
"My partner, Jameson, gave it a touch and laid it to me," Torres said. "He's a good player; he helped us a lot."
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