High School Sports

Prep girls soccer: Clovis escapes vs. Clovis North, advances to D-I final

Gabriela Watson’s goal in the 62nd minute was the difference in Clovis’ 1-0 victory over Clovis North Tuesday night in the Central Section girls Division I soccer semifinals.
Gabriela Watson’s goal in the 62nd minute was the difference in Clovis’ 1-0 victory over Clovis North Tuesday night in the Central Section girls Division I soccer semifinals. Fresno Bee staff

The record will show Clovis High advanced to the Central Section Division I championship in girls soccer by escaping 1-0 over Clovis North Tuesday night at Lamonica Stadium on Gabriela Watson’s goal in the 62nd minute on a textbook assist from fabulous freshman Kylie Lucero.

But that only represents part of the story.

There’s the other involving Cougars goalie Callie Thiesen.

She’s the sophomore who dived, lunged and reached to block shot after shot in the first half and, ultimately, gave a single Clovis goal meaning, to say nothing of the opportunity to play unbeaten and top-seeded Clovis East – again – for the division championship Saturday at 1 p.m. on the Timberwolves’ field.

Thiesen was peppered five times in the first 30 minutes by seventh-seeded Clovis North (9-8-7), which had been beaten and tied by No. 3 Clovis (16-5-3) while going but 1-4-5 in the Tri-River Athletic Conference.

But Thiesen responded with unfailing rejects against a Broncos offense led by Riana Castaneda, a Fresno Pacific-bound goalie moved out of the cage and to forward by coach Nick Pappanduros on this night.

Thiesen, simply, Watson said, gave the third-seeded Cougars a chance to play one more game: “She saved our butts; props to her. If she hadn’t come through in the first half, we would not have been in it.”

And now on to Clovis East, which has gone 9-0-1 in the TRAC and 19-0-3 overall, including a 1-0, 2-1 sweep of Clovis in the league.

“It’s a tossup, it really is,” said Clovis North coach Nick Pappanduros, who, earlier Tuesday, watched Clovis East miss six breakaways and survive a Frontier shot off the post in sudden death before defeating the No. 4 Titans 2-1.

Clovis second-year coach Vanessa Black, a 2009 graduate of the school and former Cougars and Fresno State player, said: “It’s going to be an exciting game. They’ve beaten us twice and we’re the underdog. I think more than anything, our girls are hungry and ready to play.”

But it was Clovis North who clearly arrived at Lamonica with more hunger Tuesday night.

And, imagine, the No. 7 Broncos – a one-win TRAC team – were that close to actually making the D-I final stage after beating No. 10 Stockdale 2-1 in the first round and No. 2 and County/Metro Athletic Conference champion Bullard 3-2 in the quarterfinals.

But it wouldn’t be as Castaneda – following one in a series of first-half lasers stoned by Thiesen – could be seen on knees, head bowed and grasped by both hands.

And when the Broncos, for all their dominance, went into halftime tied, Pappanduros had reason for fright: “That’s always in back of your mind because you’re leaving a team in it. We could have put them away and, sure enough, we’ve seen a lot of those games this year. We’ve been all over teams but just haven’t put it in the back of the net. But we were really coming on fire and starting to peak at the right time.”

Back of the net?

That was left-footed with poise and ease to the left corner of the cage by Watson after receiving the left-to-right feed by Lucero as Timberwolves freshman goalie Angie Petrakis had not a chance.

“Perfect pass,” Watson said. “I mean, I didn’t have any pressure on me. I just had to take my time, get it good on my foot, hit it and place it perfect.”

Andy Boogaard: 559-441-6400, @beepreps

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