Buchanan High School has defeated some of the nation’s top-ranked boys soccer teams this season.
But beating schools in the Tri-River Athletic Conference has proven a much bigger challenge for the two-time defending Central Section Division I champion.
The Bears fell to 5-1-3 against the TRAC and 10-0-4 against everyone else, a mark that includes victories over teams nationally ranked at the time in Carlsbad, Servite-Anaheim and Hamilton-Chandler (Ariz.). In TRAC play, they have lost to Clovis West and tied Central, Clovis East and now Clovis.
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Central (6-2-1 TRAC) took a one-point lead over Buchanan for first place with a 3-1 victory over Clovis North on Saturday, though the teams are tied in percentage points.
Just because teams are nationally ranked doesn’t mean they are better than teams in the TRAC. There is a lot of good talent here in the Valley. People just don’t know about it because there is so much attention focused on Southern California and Northern California.
Buchanan boys soccer coach John Spurgeon
“Clovis teams don’t want to lose to Clovis teams, and Central wants to beat all the Clovis schools,” Buchanan coach John Spurgeon said. “That’s why the TRAC is one of the best leagues in the state.
“Just because teams are nationally ranked doesn’t mean they are better than teams in the TRAC. There is a lot of good talent here in the Valley. People just don’t know about it because there is so much attention focused on Southern California and Northern California.”
After a scoreless first half, Myles Dornhofer put the Bears on the scoreboard when he took a feed from Johnny Zepeda and slipped a goal home in the 45th minute.
But Clovis (12-6-2, 4-4-1) scored the equalizer three minutes later as EzanaJens Mesfin collected a rebound and hammered a shot into an open net.
Buchanan had two open looks on goal in overtime but sent one high and the other wide right.
“We had good combos going through the middle, but guess our finishing wasn’t there,” Dornhofer said.
The Cougars, enjoying their best season in more than a decade, scored an important tie against a team that has won four of the past five section D-I titles and appears to be the favorite to land the No. 1 seed when playoff pairings are announced Feb. 13.
“We really wanted to win this, but a tie is good,” Mesfin said. “We’ve just got to keep our heads up and keep moving forward. We’ve come a long ways since the start of the season. Our goal is to win Valley, and I think we have a good shot.”