By Ray Hamill — The Fortuna girls might want to play more games in Arcata this season.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Huskies knocked off the Tigers 2-0 at Arcata High, their second win there in two tries this year, and their only two wins of the early season.
And just as impressively, in those two games they have shut down a high-scoring Arcata team that came in averaging more than four goals in each of its other games.
A high-pressure game plan frustrated the Tigers all afternoon, and in an evenly-played and competitive matchup, two late first-half goals within a four-minute spell proved to be the difference.
“I thought we picked it up as the game went on, and I thought we had an excellent second half,” Fortuna head coach Kevin O’Neil said. “Arcata is a good team, Arcata is always a good team, and this was a big win for us.”
The win lifts the Huskies to 1-1-1 in league play (2-2-1 overall) and keeps them in the thick of things along with Eureka, St. Bernard’s and Arcata, which fell to 2-1 in league (4-3 overall).
“Fortuna came with a good game plan, and they executed that game plan well,” Arcata head coach Patrick Stranahan said.
Both defenses were solid throughout, with few clearcut scoring chances allowed by either.
The game’s only two goals were scored off deflections, the first coming from a corner kick and bouncing into the back of the net off a defender’s chest on the unluckiest of plays for Arcata.
The second came on a shot from Fortuna’s Nyah Cacren from the edge of the penalty area, which was partially blocked and sailed high over the keeper’s head into the back of the net.
In an otherwise even game, both team’s central midfielders impressed throughout.
Alongside Cacren, Fortuna’s Sarah Killfoil was equally impressive in the heart of the lineup, displaying some nice moves to frustrate the Arcata back line, particularly after the break.
Not to be out-done, the Arcata duo of Karina Zumbrun and Nina Crossen — the team’s two senior captains — were instrumental in everything the Tigers did, particularly Zumbrun, who turned in a player-of-the-match performance.
“They’re both very strong players that anchor our center midfield,” Stranahan said.
Zumbrun moved further up field late in the game and was just as effective as the Tigers put together a late flurry of chances.
“It did work,” Stranahan said of the switch. “We just couldn’t capitalize on our opportunities.”
The Fortuna back line, however, was up to the task, with a disciplined performance that gave away very few chances.
In particular, Lauren Tindell mopped up just about everything that came her way alongside Lorelei Lorang, Monceratt Bernal and Taylor Chamberlain.
“Our two center backs (Tindell and Lorang) have come a long ways the past couple of years,” O’Neil said. “They play well together.
“(Tindell) really played a disciplined game. It makes a huge difference for us when she plays a disciplined game.”
The Arcata defense was equally impressive, led by senior center back Gwyn Stratton.
“Our back line played awesome,” Stranahan said of his defense.
Fortuna travels to Ferndale on Saturday, while Arcata plays at McKinleyville.