Now that the Clovis High boys soccer team has a taste of the postseason, the Wildcats are looking for more.
CHS put together a 15-5 record last fall, winning the District 4-5A title (4-0) for the first time in 11 years. But the Cats saw their season come to an abrupt end in a 4-1 first-round Class 5A state tournament loss at Volcano Vista.
Fourth-year coach Greg Trujillo said the Cats will have to replace their leading scorer from last year, forward Gerardo Jimenez, and their goalkeeper, Brandon Speice, but he thinks they can make a deeper run this time with a senior-laden squad.
“Our first goal is to win the district again and then see what happens,” Trujillo said. “I think we’ll be a little deeper and have more speed up top. This year, we’re balanced out more where anybody can put it in the net.”
Senior Alan Candelaria, who played midfield and defense last year, will move in for Speice at goalkeeper, a position he’s played most of his life.
“He’s got some big shoes to fill, but he did well in our alumni game last week,” Trujillo said.
Senior midfielders Austin Schaap and Raul Heredia are returning starters, along with junior defender McKenzie Chastang.
Schaap said the Cats have the ability to make up for the loss on offense of Jimenez, who actually would have been a senior this year but graduated early. Jimenez was third in Class 5A with 14 goals last season, and he added nine assists.
“I think our offense is just as strong as last year,” Schaap said. “Our defense took a minor hit, but I think we’ll be fine.”
CHS opens on Saturday at Rio Rancho. They’ve met the Rams in the season opener for several years and are yet to beat them, but they had a 2-0 lead late last season before falling 3-2 in overtime.
“It’s a pretty good measuring stick,” Schaap said. “It’s a good way to start (the season) and see how we’re doing.”
Trujillo said the Cats lost a player to a red card late in last year’s contest against Rio Rancho.
“It totally changed the outcome; we lost the momentum,” he said. “If we score first (this time), I think we’ll be able to put the pressure on them.”
Trujillo said help should come from transfers Tyler Fields, a senior defender from the Phoenix area, and freshman forward Josh Otero, who moved in from Idaho. Fields is likely to be a starter.