The day began at Buchanan High with overcast skies, plunged into a 30-minute monsoon and closed in brilliant sunshine.
Through the dramatic weather shifts Saturday were 203 minutes of girls and boys soccer for the Central Section Division I championships.
Regulation. Overtimes. Even a sudden death.
All that, but at the end of the day, nothing changed.
It was a Buchanan sweep. Again.
And the opposing coaches could only applaud the Bears’ top-seeded teams’ performances — and history.
First, Clovis North’s No. 2 girls controlled possession for a good percentage of the game, only to get beat 1-0 on a goal by Bears senior Cricket Swinney 3 minutes into sudden death.
It was Buchanan’s fourth consecutive title under coach Orlando Ramirez — and the Bears’ ninth in 10 years.
“I thought we had them on their heels most of the game,” Broncos coach Nick Pappanduros said. “But that’s what Buchanan does — they find a way.”
Then Liberty-Bakersfield’s third-seeded boys were rescued time and time again by 6-foot-3 goalie Trevor Peterson against a Buchanan team ranked fifth in the state and No. 10 nationally by topdrawersoccer.com.
But Peterson was finally rendered helpless by a fabulous, 20-yard bender from the top of the box in the final seconds of the first of two 10-minute OT periods by Bears senior Brandon Goldman — his first goal of the season — and it held up for yet another Buchanan 1-0 victory.
“We knew they were going to be very, very difficult to break down,” Patriots coach Jay Gore said, “because they’re super organized, one of the most organized teams I’ve seen. You’ve got to give credit to their coach. He had a good game plan, and they were super disciplined.”
Buchanan’s 20-2-1 boys and 18-3-5 girls now await next Sunday’s pairings for the Southern California Regionals.
That’s good for Goldman, who will need a week to return from the clouds.
“I was shocked,” said the outside fullback whose primary responsibility is defense. “I’ve never scored a better goal in my life.”
He’s played the sport for 13 years, including the past four in a varsity career that included one other goal, as a sophomore.
“That goal came from the most unlikely person, that’s for sure,” said Bears eight-year coach John Spurgeon.
The score was set up by a short corner kick by Viktor Dolberg to Stephan Morris, who advanced a perfect pass to Goldman.
“I knew when the ball came to me I just had to put it away,” Goldman said not long after being hoisted twice — once upon the shoulders of teammates, the other by classmates.
They were part of an overflow crowd of more than a 1,000 who got their money’s worth for $10 (adults) and $6 (students) tickets. And that didn’t include those who went economical by watching from the parking lot and atop the adjacent baseball stadium.
They saw Buchanan’s boys register a third straight shutout in the postseason and their sixth in seven games behind goalie Ryan Bray and a back line formed by Goldman, Dolberg, Colson Verhalen and Jacob Rudolph.
The boys game was delayed for 30 minutes in the second half when Liberty senior captain Makay Moss collapsed without contact after aggravating a pre-existing neck injury. He was taken by ambulance to Fresno’s Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, where tests found a crack in his spinal cord, Gore said.
The girls game, ultimately calmed after playing through 30 minutes of winds and a downpour in the first half, was quickly decided in sudden death after Buchanan and Tri-River Athletic Conference rival Clovis North (16-5-6) had gone scorelesss in two 10-minute OT periods.
Elisa Soderholm’s corner kick was headed by Christina Monreal and back to Swinney, who sizzled a shot past Liberty goalie Riana Castaneda and inside the far left post.
“I saw the ball and knew, ‘This has to be it,’” said three-year player Swinney, lifelong Cricket after being named Samantha. “I was ecstatic; I knew that was a big-time goal. I don’t have words to explain what went through me.”
The Bears’ latest in a series of dramatic D-I finals under Ramirez followed a last-minute winning goal by Caitlyn Kreutz last year against Bullard and conquests of Stockdale via a penalty kick shootout and a double OT.
And this one came in a season that saw Buchanan lose senior starters Taylor Ehresman and Alyssa Damian to ACL injuries.
“Unbelievable,” said former Fresno Pacific standout Ramirez. “As tight as (the four D-I finals) have been, they’re a testament to our heart and ability to last that long, to get to the end of the games and still have the desire and energy to put them away when it mattered.”