Clovis Crush ends historic season on a downer

Clovis Crush freshman midfielder Ariana Quintero broke loose from the Hartnell College defense for a sixth-minute goal.
Clovis Crush freshman midfielder Ariana Quintero broke loose from the Hartnell College defense for a sixth-minute goal.

The foul in the 86th minute of play didn’t help.

Neither did a red card that resulted in the ejection of freshman defender Jackyln Segura that left the Clovis Community College women’s soccer team short-handed for the ensuing pair of 15-minute overtime periods.

Hartnell College forward Belinda Ascencio converted on the free kick, floating the ball over a wall of Crush defenders and past the grasp of Crush goalie Brianna Alarrazabal.

The result: Getting bounced out of the state playoffs in a game decided by penalty kicks (4-2, Hartnell) in a Nov. 21 home match that ended the season for head coach Orlando Ramírez, his Central Valley Conference MVP Arianna Quintero, and a Crush team that closed the books on a 14-3-4 season.

“I think from the beginning in the first half we felt in control,” said Ramírez, who has built the 3-year-old program from scratch. “We weren’t creating the types of chances that we normally create (but) I think there was never a doubt for us that we’d get a goal.”

That’s when Quintero, a freshman from Edison High, dodged a trio of defenders and promptly blasted a right-footed shot past Hartnell goalie Lexandra Retamoza in the xxth minute to give the Crush an early lead.

“I just saw the opening. I had tried a couple of times before with the same sort of situation, and it didn’t work out,” said Quintero. “This one, I kind of took my time with it and thought my way through it and luckily I was able to come out with a goal.”

Quintero appeared to hit potential game-winners in the second overtime period, but couldn’t direct the ball where she wanted to place it.

“I tried to place it in the far bottom corners. I kind of got underneath it on a couple of shots that I took and they didn’t really go where I wanted to place them,” said Quintero. “I tried to aim for those bottom corners but it just wasn’t happening.”

The loss, said Quintero, doesn’t define the Crush season.

“They fought hard, and we fought hard as well. I think we played our hearts out,” said Quintero. “Sometimes it happens; it just goes that way. You don’t come out on top.”

Ramírez was an assistant coach at Fresno Pacific for his father, the legendary Jaime Ramírez, before taking over the Clovis Crush women’s program.

“You can’t talk about our season without knowing we had, in every aspect, continued growth from the first two years,” said Ramírez. “Making it one round farther in the playoffs, getting our first playoff win. best winning percentage for our program. Little things like that.

“I’m very proud of the growth in the short amount of time we’ve been able to do.”

Having a player like Quintero makes it easy to coach.

“It’s been a pleasure. We get to sit back and watch her,” he said. “The goal today was a testament to what her ability is.”

Ramírez gets to coach Quintero next season.

The all-conference team included sophomores Mía Castillo, Savannah Dungan and Esmeralda Navarro.