The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Cats think they'll be better

 


Clovis High School senior goalkeeper Terrance Speice makes a save during practice Tuesday at Yucca Soccer Complex. Photo by Eric Kluth

Second-year Clovis High boys soccer coach Shaun Gill is confident the Wildcats will do better than they did last season.

There’s certainly plenty of room for improvement after the Wildcats went 1-18 in 2002, winning in pool play over Artesia in overtime on the first day of the season-opening Clovis Invitational before losing their last 17 outings.

“I think we’re better than we were last year,” said Gill, who welcomed around 40 prospects to the start of two-a-days on Monday. “These guys have been working hard during the offseason, from what I’ve seen from last week in team camp and this week in two-a-days.”

Gill said the Cats will still be on the young side, with juniors the dominant class. He said 11 letterwinners return, about half of whom were starters.

“Last year we didn’t play as much in the summer,” junior midfielder and co-captain Kendal Essex said. “We’ve done a lot on our own (over the summer) without coach. We’d call each other up and go to the soccer field and play pickup games.”

Once again, the Cats open the season in their ix-team invitational. They meet Roswell High and Alamogordo in pool play on Aug. 22, with final-round matches scheduled for the next day.

Gill said getting off to a good start could be crucial.

“The first couple of games are going to be a confidence deal,” he said. “Once we start to expect to win when we step on the field, it’s sort of a self-fulfilling thing.”

Essex said the Cats played teams from District 4-5A Hobbs and Carlsbad in a summer league, splitting two matches against both teams.

“We’ve been hanging with them better,” he said. “I think we need to beat Hobbs and Carlsbad and try to split against (defending 4-5A champion Albuquerque) Eldorado.”

While he expects improvement, Gill is hesitant to go too far out on a limb when it comes to district play.

“I’m not going to predict on district or anything like that,” he said. “It’s going to be a knock-down, drag-out between Hobbs and us and Carlsbad for that second (playoff) slot. Eldorado is just tough every year, and when they graduated people they always seem to put in guys that are just as good.

“But we’ll try to be competitive in all our games and we’d like to make it to regionals in November.”

 
 

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