By Ray Hamill — The Eureka Loggers took another big step toward retaining their league title in girls soccer on Wednesday evening, running out to a 4-2 win over visiting Fortuna at Albee Stadium.
The victory was the seventh straight to start the season for the Loggers, who widened the gap at the top of the standings between themselves and the second-placed Huskies to two-and-a-half games.
Despite the win, however, Eureka head coach Andy Salatnay wasn’t entirely happy with his team’s performance.
“No, I wasn’t,” he said. “It’s almost as if the 6-0 start got into our heads. What we’re working for is 80 minutes of consistency, and today we were stopping and starting.”
They say the sign of a good team is one that can win even when it doesn’t play well, and if that’s the case, then the Loggers must be a good team.
They are certainly the best in the area this season, by some margin as well, and despite the coach’s disappointment, there was plenty to admire about the Loggers’ performance.
They began the game strong, taking a 2-0 lead in the opening 15 minutes, and were never really in danger of losing their advantage after that, although the visitors pulled within reach late.
Up front, the irrepressible Olivia Stone was commanding once again, working effectively alongside the equally impressive Klayre Barres.
The two displayed an almost unspoken understanding of each other’s play, while their movement off the ball kept the Fortuna defense on its toes for large spells.
Senior midfielder Athena Miller also impressed, scoring one of the goals of the season on a brilliant shot from outside the box to give her team a 4-1 lead with just under 10 minutes remaining.
At the back, the Eureka defense was solid throughout, giving up few chances to a dangerous Fortuna attack, with Grace Plessinger and Keylei Carroll shoring up the middle.
The Loggers did give up their first two goals of the season, but that was more down to the brilliance of Fortuna freshmen forward Kallia Yang than it was to any shortcomings in the Eureka defense.
Yang scored both of the Fortuna goals, the first right before halftime on a spectacular volley off a corner kick.
She added a second goal on a high blast into the roof of the net to close the gap to two with four minutes remaining.
That, however, was as close as the Huskies would get to a Eureka team that has dominated the rest of the North Coast this season and has now beaten its two closest rivals within the past five days.
Stone and Barres impress
Stone, who has been unstoppable all season, added another goal to her season tally, which now stands at 12 in seven games.
Barres is also enjoying an outstanding campaign and appears to be getting stronger with each game.
The sophomore standout made it a 3-0 lead shortly before halftime, on a wonderful individual effort that saw her run onto a throw-in and beat the defender into the penalty area before finishing with a well-placed shot past the oncoming keeper.
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Out wide for the Loggers, Adriana Newland and Kellina Pratton also kick-started several dangerous attacks, with Newland netting one of the four goals, while the industrious Aquena Tolfeson was equally impressive in midfield.
Tolfeson’s hard work paid off with three assists.
Tindall solid at the back
The loss ended a four-game winning streak for Fortuna, which dropped to 4-2-1 in league play and 5-3-1 overall.
“I was real happy with the girls not giving up,” Fortuna head coach Kevin O’Neil said. “We made it a game till the very end. And (Eureka’s) a very skilled team. We’re still learning. We’re a very young team.”
Senior Lauren Tindall had another impressive showing at the back for the Huskies defense, dealing with the potent Loggers offense.
“She kept us in the game,” O’Neil said of Tindall.
Lorelei Lorang was also solid at the back, while in goal, Kelli Ford saved the visitors on numerous occasions with some fine saves and a brave performance gathering possession at the feet at the relentless Eureka forwards.
Nyah Cacren had a good game in midfield for Fortuna, initiating several promising attacks, while up front Yang and Sarah Killfoil were a handful for the home defense.
Yang has improved her game since the early season and has been particularly impressive against her past few opponents.
“She’s a very skilled player,” O’Neil said. “She’s very quick. And she’s getting much more dynamic. She’s not waiting for the ball. She’s getting stronger and stronger.”