Clovis East High’s emergence as a contender for the Central Section Division I girls soccer title gained a little more steam Friday afternoon.
That’s what happens when you beat the section’s premier program of the past 10 years on its home field.
The Timberwolves extended the only officially unbeaten season in the section with a 1-0 victory over Buchanan, which has won nine of the past 10 D-I titles, including four straight.
The Bears were 90-8-4 at home over the past 9 1/2 seasons heading into Friday.
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Clovis East made Nikki Crouch’s early second-half goal stand up to improve to 15-0-2 overall and a Tri-River Athletic Conference-leading 7-0. The Timberwolves, top-ranked in the section by The Bee, can clinch at least a share of the school’s second league title with a win Wednesday at home against last season’s D-I runner-up Clovis North.
Winning so many games in a row, we’re getting the team to believe that we can do this and we can go all the way.
Clovis East co-captain Mia Castillo on the Timberwolves’ 15-0-2 start
“It means a lot to us, not having gone this far undefeated before,” Timberwolves midfielder and junior co-captain Mia Castillo said. “Winning so many games in a row, we’re getting the team to believe that we can do this and we can go all the way. If we can stay undefeated in the TRAC, it really helps build our program at East.”
Clovis East, which lost to Madera South on penalty kicks during the Peggy Renberg final in a game officially recorded as a tie, has won eight straight since a 1-1 tie against Clovis West at the Garces Holiday Classic on Dec. 19.
It continues a breakout season for the Timberwolves, who have finished better than .500 once during the past 10 years, and Friday surpassed their combined win total in TRAC play over the past five seasons.
“It’s been a struggle for the past few years to compete with these teams,” said junior co-captain Peyton Kwalwasser, who switched from forward to center defender Friday against Buchanan because of an injury. “It surprises a lot of people, but we do the work at practice, we put hard work in and we know we can win. We believe in ourselves. That’s a big part of it, doing the things we know we can do.”
Sixth-ranked Buchanan (7-8-2, 1-5-1) controlled much of the early portion of the game, getting several good looks at the goal that were either off the mark or saved by Clovis East goalkeeper Danielle Cedillo.
The Timberwolves turned the momentum in the second half by employing a more possession-oriented attack.
For us it was really about starting to play as a team and not just try and do it individually.
Clovis East coach Jasara Gillette on her team’s second-half play in a 1-0 Tri-River Athletic Conference win over Buchanan
“I think once we started to play that way, the game started to turn,” Clovis East coach Jasara Gillette said. “Buchanan is an amazing opponent; they have great coaches. For us it was really about starting to play as a team and not just try and do it individually.”
The goal came when Crouch took a through-ball from Carissa Wight and beat a one-on-one against Buchanan’s goalkeeper in the 48th minute.
“I had a really good ball from Carissa,” said Crouch, who scored her team-leading 13th goal of the season off Wight’s sixth assist. “Basically all I did was kick it in.”