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Clovis tops Portales, moves to 6-1 on girls soccer season

Eastern New Mexico News, Clovis, N.M. — Peter Stein Eastern New Mexico News, Clovis, N.M.

Sept. 08--PORTALES -- Both the Clovis and Portales girls soccer teams had their challenges when they played Thursday at Portales High School.

Clovis' may not have seemed so glaring, because a 5-1 record coming in can salve a lot of shortcomings. Portales' 0-3 made its struggles that much more noticeable.

The Lady Wildcats were missing their top three scorers from last season -- strikers Madison Lynch and Neveah Coronado with their 14 goals combined, and midfielder Danielle Griego. Yet the 'Cats were still able to piece together a 5-0 victory, thanks in large part to Sofia Rico's hat trick.

"We're kind of beat up right now," Clovis head coach Traci Sievers said. "We've had to move some people around. Today we had lots of people play different positions, so we've had some flexibility."

"We collaborate well together," Rico said. "And we're together as a team, we play well together."

The Lady Rams, meanwhile, have had their own problems with numbers and have also had to shuffle players around. .

"They play hard. They play their hearts out," Portales head coach Ruben Tellez said. "We're just a little thin right now on varsity. But I'm proud of the effort. ... They're a good bunch of young ladies."

Clovis' young ladies, though, took care of business.

"It was good, but it was mainly a team effort," Rico said. "It was the team that helped me make those goals."

Rico's trifecta gave her 16 goals this season, while serving as a nice dose of offensive adrenaline for Clovis.

Her goals were the Lady Wildcats' first three of the game, the initial one coming off assists by Illeana Griego and Madeline Howalt with less than three minutes gone by.

Rico's second goal occurred late in the half, off an assist from Angelina Lopez in the 37th minute.

It was still a 2-0 game at halftime, a relatively modest lead for the Lady 'Cats, and that margin held for more than a quarter of the second half. But Rico wasn't done, scoring off a direct kick from 20 yards out with 27:32 left in regulation.

Clovis struck again nearly five minutes later, when Kiyrha Lilly took a shot from the right side of the Rams goal. Portales senior keeper Jazmin Garza seemed to have caught the ball at first, but it zipped through and into the extreme left side of the goal with 22:51 remaining in the second half.

In Garza's defense, she had never played soccer before this season, according to Tellez. But she stepped up to fill a big role.

"I'll be the first one to get on her," Tellez said, "but I also told her, 'You know what? I'm proud you didn't give up.'"

Neither did the Lady Wildcats, who got one last goal, this time on a boot by Howalt off an assist from Aydan Everett in the 72nd minute.

Both teams were soon ready to soldier on to their weekend competition, each with its struggles, each with its determination.

"I think it's making our overall team improvement stronger," Sievers said of her Wildcats' adversity.

"You can't knock their effort," Tellez said of his Rams' attitude. "They're winning in other aspects of life."

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