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

By Peter Stein
Staff Writer 

'Cats move to 9-0

Clovis overcomes slow start to top Portales 3-0


September 12, 2018

Kevin Wilson

Clovis senior Kade Jones takes advantage of a loose ball in front of the net and blasts it into the left side for Clovis' first goal. Jones also scored in the second half of the Wildcats' 3-0 win over Portales.

CLOVIS - For the Portales and Clovis boys soccer teams, there was something positive to take from Tuesday night's game at Leon Williams Stadium.

For Clovis, it was the ultimate positive, the most important one - a victory, which the Wildcats earned by a 3-0 count.

For Portales, a loss wasn't ideal, but the 4A Rams were playing an undefeated 5A team, ranked No. 1 in New Mexico by Maxpreps. So losing by three - with the second-half scoring consisting of just a flukey goal - wasn't all that bad a deal.

"We actually tried to run a new formation today, with a 4-5-1 line - with four defenders, one sweeper and then four midfielders and the one forward - and that really helped us out defensively," Portales head coach Juan Mendez said. "To be honest, I was kind of scared because we had never practiced this formation."

It kept the Wildcats at bay for much of the night, backed by some acrobatic saves by junior Brayan Tinajero in goal. The Wildcats, in fact, didn't find the net until the game's 29th minute.

They did go on to win, though, and improved to an impressive 9-0 on the season.

"Absolutely, 9-0. It's a great start," Clovis assistant coach Daniel Rojas said. "One thing we want to make sure we keep the boys doing is staying level-headed throughout the rest of the season ... because we've got a pretty tough district. We're obviously out of the Albuquerque (6A) district, but Hobbs and Roswell are always going to be tough tests."

Trujillo delegated Rojas to answer media queries postgame, as he was still engaged in some coaching with his squad.

"Tonight, one thing we talked about at halftime was starting off slow," Rojas continued. "I don't know if it's the fact that we're nine games into the season, but they played a little bit selfish (in the first half). And during halftime we talked to them about working the wings, distributing to our outlets the way that we've been pushing all year, so instead of us taking everything down the middle, (Trujillo) has always wanted us to use the outsides and maybe cross something in."

Clovis may not have been playing the way Trujillo and the coaching staff wanted in the first half, but some credit was due to that 4-5-1 Portales formation and Tinajero's play. At one point about midway through the half, Tinajero slid right to make a stop. A few minutes later he slid forward to stop another one. Throughout the night, Tinajero was kept busy fending off a Wildcats attack that wound up spraying 21 shots on goal.

Clovis finally hit paydirt after a scramble in front of the Rams net resulted in a Kade Jones goal assisted by Anthony Reyes, with just under 12 minutes to play before halftime.

It didn't take much longer for the Wildcats to register their second goal, coming at the 7:40 mark of the first half off a short shot by Devin Fowler, assisted by the now-healthy and rejuvenated Richard Masterson.

Kevin Wilson

Clovis junior Cody Little tries to create separation against Portales defender Adan Munoz in the first half of Tuesday's game.

Clovis took that 2-0 lead into the break, and the score held until just past the second half's midway point when the flukey goal occurred. A Jones shot was deflected by a Rams defender, but then arced up and back and lofted over Tinajero's head, into the right corner of Portales' net.

That made it 3-0, and that was also it for the night's scoring.

A better night for Portales than your average loss would indicate.

"Especially since Clovis is the No. 1 team in the state right now," Mendez said. "And to know we shut them down, I'm really proud of these guys. They all put in the work and some guys stepped into positions that they never played before."

And for Clovis it was nine up, nine down. Can't be better than that at this stage.

"3-0 doesn't really reflect the quality of how we played tonight because obviously we had a lot more dominance," Rojas said. "They didn't really have too many shots (just four) on us, but overall it's good to still get the shutout, go to 9-0, and look foward to the next one Saturday against Artesia."


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