Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera defender Audree Gonzalez, right, defends a Buchanan attacker during Tuesday’s win.
The Madera Coyote girls soccer team set itself for a battle through some of the top teams in the Central Section by battling the top teams in the Tri-River Athletic Conference.
The Coyotes suffered their bruises through three of the five matches against the TRAC schools. However, they came away with a scoreless tie against Clovis West and then pulled out a 1-0 victory Tuesday over the Buchanan-Clovis Bears in Memorial Stadium through a constant rainstorm.
Mia Alvarez sent a free kick through the line and inside the right post midway through the first half for the eventual game-winning goal.
“All I was really thinking was if I made it in, we could stay up for the remainder of the game,” Alvarez said. “All we can do and defend the whole game.”
“It was a big goal,” head coach Cameron Hill said. “We worked on hitting those free kicks yesterday in practice. She did exactly what we talked about, hitting it on frame. It snuck in and the ball skidded into the corner and we held on.”
The win over Buchanan gives the Coyotes momentum into their County/Metro Athletic Conference opener Thursday against Edison-Fresno, who lost to Liberty 2-0 on Tuesday.
“They are a Div. I team and we got a win after losing a few games,” Alvarez said. “It will help us a lot since it’s Buchanan.”
In the 15th minute of the match, off a Buchanan corner kick, goalkeeper Jessica Diaz kept Buchanan off the board with back-to-back diving saves through traffic before Buchanan hit a shot out of bounds.
In the 20th minute, Madera received a free kick from about 30 yards out. Buchanan set a wall in front of the goal, but Alvarez stepped to the ball determined. She sent her ball low through the wall of Buchanan players. The ball found its way through the legs low and skipped on the wet artificial surface and into the back of the net just inside the right post for the goal.
The goal was Madera’s first goal since Dec. 13 when the Coyotes defeated Sunnyside-Fresno, approximately 360 minutes, including four full matches in which they were outscored 11-0.
“Once we got the lead, we knew what we had to do,” Hill said. “They are one of the top teams in the valley.”
Now, the Coyotes had to hold on to their one-goal lead.
In the 19th minute of the second half, Buchanan got a ball in front off a free kick, but Diaz deflected the ball over the goal.
In the 30th minute, Buchanan had its best chance at a goal. They got a ball in front and shot by Diaz. The ball bounced off the right post, but a Buchanan player was right there. However, her shot went over the goal to keep Madera in the lead.
“All we could do was wait and see how they were going to play the ball and how we could stop them,” Alvarez said. “We did a good job clearing the ball when they got close.”
Madera got a free kick in the 32nd minute and Alvarez sent a shot over the goal. A minute later, Buchanan received a corner kick, although it looked like a Buchanan player kicked the ball out of bounds. However, Buchanan headed the corner kick out of bounds.
After constantly defending numerous Buchanan attacks, the final whistle sounded and the Coyotes celebrated a 1-0 victory over the Bears.
“It lasted a while,” Hill said of the final two minutes. “I’m glad I keep my own time. We’ve let a lot of goals go in facing these teams from the TRAC. We want to make sure the defense is solid.”