TWIN FALLS — Josh Clark has come a long way since his debut in goal for the Canyon Ridge boys soccer team.
“My first game as a freshman, I was terrified,” said Clark, referring to his first year in the program, 2010. “Over time I’ve grown and been able to deal with a lot more situations, hold more shots and be more composed in back.”
Clark showed promise as a freshman, but he flourished as his prep career progressed. The 2013 Times-News player of the year developed into the preeminent netminder in District IV, regardless of classification, and he did it through composure, direction and a knack for making big saves in big moments.
The lanky keeper, bound for the Colorado School of Mines next year, wasn’t the only standout player Canyon Ridge had on its way to the regular season Great Basin Conference championship, but he was inarguably its most influential player.
With the way he directed traffic with defenders, kept the lines of communication constantly open and helped buttress a back five that was stingy all season long, the Riverhawks’ success began between the sticks.
“Ever since I was young, I’ve been talking to my defense — the better defenses are ones that are always communicating, and that’s really helped us. It just benefits the whole team,” he said.
Shot-stopping doesn’t hurt either. From his sophomore year on, Clark has been the goalkeeper opponents least want to take a penalty shot on.
He’s developed a penchant for foiling the opposition at spot kicks, something invaluable on a keeper’s level.
“Even as they’re setting up, I’ll tell myself where I think they’re going and read the kicker as he’s kicking, what he’s doing, body language,” he said. “With my height I cover a large amount of the goal — shot-stopping is one of the easier parts of the game for me.”
None was bigger for confidence than in the first game of the season, when the Riverhawks led 5A Rocky Mountain 2-1 late when the Grizzlies earned a penalty kick. Clark saved it to preserve the win.
“Beating a 5A team was a great experience for us,” he said.