After a rough transition to a new coach a season ago, the Buchanan High girls soccer team is back in familiar position.
The Bears sit atop the Tri-River Athletic Conference and are angling for the top seed in the Central Section Division I playoffs. Pairings for the section’s six playoff divisions will be announced Friday.
Buchanan (14-5-3, 7-2-0) has already clinched its eighth league title in the past 11 years, heading into its TRAC finale at 3 p.m. Tuesday at home against Clovis North.
The Bears will win the title outright – and make a strong case for D-I’s top playoff seed – with a win. Buchanan beat host Clovis North 1-0 in their previous meeting Jan. 20.
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Buchanan had won eight of the past nine D-I titles entering last season, its first under coach Kevin Botterill. But the Bears slipped to 9-11-2 overall and 2-7-1 in the TRAC while replacing eight starters from a team that beat Clovis North 1-0 in triple overtime for its fourth consecutive section title in the 2015-15 season.
“I’ve been very pleased with the rebound from last year,” Botterill said. “There’s been a change in our emphasis. We’re sending the team out better to be successful.”
I’ve been very pleased with the rebound from last year.
Buchanan coach Kevin Botterill, whose team is 14-5-3 overall after going 9-11-2 last year
Unlike Buchanan teams of recent vintage, which have been powered by dynamic scorers such as Caitlyn Kreutz, Elise Krieghoff, Kacey Held and Anisa Guajardo, this year’s Bears rely on a group effort, receiving at least a goal or an assist from 16 of 22 field position players on the roster.
Junior Kyndel Borman leads Buchanan with 14 goals. Junior Jaden Belcher has nine.
“We have great depth,” Botterill said. “The fact we can go to a player who hasn’t played as much – and they produce – has been huge for us.”
Buchanan has beaten every team in the TRAC at least once, has beaten Southwest Yosemite League-leading Liberty-Bakersfield and has tied County/Metro Athletic Conference champion Bullard.
“I think we’re in a good place,” Botterill said. “We’ve seen everyone but a few Bakersfield teams, and we’ve beaten everyone we’ve seen.”
▪ Riding an eight-game winning streak, Kingsburg debuts in The Bee’s Central Section girls soccer rankings at No. 1 in Division IV.
The marquee win during the Vikings’ hot stretch was a 4-0 victory against Central Valley Christian on Jan. 25 that brought an end to the longest league unbeaten streak in section history at 152 games, according to historian Bob Barnett.
The Cavaliers went 149-0-3 dating to 2002 before the loss to Kingsburg, which got two goals apiece from Marissa Montelongo and Maci Morton, two assists from Audrey Jimenez and an assist from Karlee Hodges.
▪ McLane’s boys soccer secured its second consecutive North Yosemite League title with a 4-3 victory over Reedley on Feb. 3, as reigning Bee Player of the Year Juan Flores provided a goal and an assist.
The Highlanders, who won the D-IV title last season for the first section boys soccer title in school history, also received goals from Ivan Alanis, Estevan Rangel and Axel Corona.
Wrestling – State top-ranked Justin Mejia was named the Champion of Champions after capping a 5-0 run through the Mission San Jose Invitational with a 5-1 victory over No. 7 Kyle Parco of San Ramon Valley in the 126-pound final, helping Clovis High capture the team title.
The Cougars also received four pins in four matches from state top-ranked 285-pounder Seth Nevills, including a fall in 28 seconds over Buchanan’s No. 23 Isaiah Sanchez in the final, while winning with 313.5 points. Second-place Buchanan, which competed without four state-ranked wrestlers, had 239 points.
5-0Record for Clovis’ Justin Mejia, who won the 126-pound division and was named the Mission San Jose Invitational’s Champion of Champions.
Clovis had champions in eight of 14 weight classes, with Giano Petrucelli (106), Brandon Paulson (113), Wyatt Cornelison (120), Victor Vargas (170), Jacob Good (182) and Ruger Wyneken (195) joining Mejia and Nevills.
Buchanan’s two individual champions came in marquee matchups, with No. 2-ranked Joel Romero upsetting No. 1 Brandon Martino of Clovis 4-0 in the 160-pound final and Cade Belshay scoring a 13-4 major decision over De La Salle-Concord’s No. 2 Darryl Aiello in the 220-pound final.
The only other local champion was Mission Oak-Tulare’s Jaden Enriquez, the state’s No. 1-ranked 138-pounder who beat Central Catholic-Modesto’s No. 10 Steven Abbate 3-1 for the title.
League wrestling tournaments around the section are this week, with the Tri-River Athletic Conference championships Saturday at Clovis High.
Central Section boys soccer rankings
(Records through Feb. 4)
- 1. Clovis (20-3-0)
- 2. McLane (18-2-3)
- 3. Buchanan (12-6-3)
- 4. Ridgeview (14-2-0)
- 5. Golden West (15-2-0)
- 6. El Diamante (16-2-2)
- 7. Edison (17-6-0)
- 8. Mendota (17-4-2)
- 9. Centennial (13-6-0)
- 10. Fresno (11-6-1)
- 11. South (14-4-6)
- 12. Dinuba (16-2-4)
- 13. Independence (13-6-3)
- 14. Golden Valley (12-5-3)
- 15. Sunnyside (11-6-3)
- 16. Clovis North (10-6-2)
- 17. Kerman (19-2-1)
- 18. Central (12-11-2)
- 19. Liberty-Bakersfield (16-5-3)
- 20. Memorial (16-8-0)
D-I: 1. Clovis; 2. Buchanan; 3. Centennial.
D-II: 1. Golden West; 2. El Diamante; 3. Edison.
D-III: 1. Ridgeview; 2. Fresno; 3. Dinuba.
D-IV: 1. McLane; 2. Kerman; 3. Arvin (16-3-0).
D-V: 1. McFarland (13-8-1); 2. Chavez (9-3-2); 3. Sierra (12-6-0).
D-VI: 1. Mendota; 2. Avenal (13-5-1); 3.Strathmore (9-5-0).
Central Section Girls Soccer Rankings
(Records through Feb. 4)
- 1. Buchanan (14-5-3)
- 2. Clovis (15-3-2)
- 3. Clovis North (12-5-3)
- 4. Liberty-Bakersfield (14-4-3)
- 5. Clovis East (8-6-1)
- 6. Stockdale (11-3-5)
- 7. Clovis West (8-6-3)
- 8. Central (11-7-2)
- 9. Independence (15-2-0)
- 10. Mission Oak (19-2-1)
- 11. Bullard (12-6-2)
- 12. Redwood (15-5-1)
- 13. Madera South (14-10-2)
- 14. Hanford (11-3-2)
- 15. Frontier (6-3-4)
- 16. Highland (14-6-0)
- 17. Memorial (12-9-4)
- 18. Sanger (13-9-1)
- 19. Liberty-Madera Ranchos (13-8-1)
- 20. El Diamante (13-6-2)
D-I: 1. Buchanan; 2. Clovis; 3. Clovis North.
D-II: 1. Redwood; 2. Madera South; 3. Memorial.
D-III: 1. Independence; 2. Mission Oak; 3. Hanford.
D-IV: 1. Kingsburg (17-5-2); 2. Bakersfield Christian (14-2-2); 3. Strathmore (12-5-1).
D-V: 1. Fowler (20-0-1); 2. Orosi (18-4-0); 3. Woodlake (9-4-2).
D-VI: 1. Frazier Mountain (11-2-2); 2. Mendota (11-9-4); 3. Granite Hills (9-7-1).