Clovis News: Sports

Clovis girls down Clovis West for water polo title

Kelsie Harvey and Alyssa Stevens entered high school four years ago determined to help Clovis High reach heights only attained by three other schools -- Buchanan, Clovis West and Monache -- since the Central Section girls water polo championships were launched in 1995.

And each delivered in the clutch -- Harvey with saves, Stevens with a score -- to lift the second-seeded Cougars to a 3-2 victory over top-seeded Clovis West on Saturday during the Division I championship at the Clovis West Aquatics Complex.

It caps a remarkable turnaround for Clovis, which was a sub-.500 team when Harvey and Stevens were freshman under then first-year coach Noah Minton while trying to rise to the level of success enjoyed by rivals Clovis West (10 section titles, including the past two) and Buchanan (three section titles).

"This is insane. We worked really hard all four years to beat Clovis West," Stevens said. "It's almost surreal to finally pull it off."

It was Stevens who scored the go-ahead goal for the Cougars (24-8) on a long-distance laser with 4:33 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The one-goal edge was all Clovis would need behind goalie Harvey, who made 11 saves, including a pair of stops on 5-meter penalty shots.

"Sometimes it's luck," Harvey said. "Trust me, that last [5-meter penalty block] was total luck."

Clovis West coach Scott Torosian had a much different take of Harvey's effort.

"My hat goes off to Kelsie," the two-time section-title winning coach said. "She was the difference in the cage."

Harvey's first 5-meter block with 5:02 to play in the second quarter preserved a 1-1 tie. The second prevented Clovis West from tying the score at 2-2 with 3:02 left in the third quarter.

"Without those, it wouldn't have happened," Minton said of Clovis' first girls title. "She was huge. It was one of the best games I've seen anyone at this level in the Valley play."

Clovis struck first on Caitlin Holmes' lob shot, with Clovis West (26-6) responding just before the end of the first quarter on Lauren Martin's goal.

The Cougars led 2-1 at halftime thanks to Catie Mahnke's goal, while Martin's second goal made it 2-2 with 55 seconds left in the third quarter.

"The girls have put in the hours of work looking forward to this moment," said Minton, whose team had lost three previous games against Clovis West this season. "They deserve this."