The Arcata Tigers pushed the Huskies about as close as any Humboldt-Del Norte League team has pushed them all year at Fortuna on Wednesday, but it wasn’t quite enough.
The Huskies scored two second-half goals to pull out a 2-1 win and keep their perfect league run going.
In other local soccer action on Wednesday, the table-topping Eureka girls continued to roll over the opposition with a dominating 8-0 win at St. Bernard’s, while the Fortuna girls posted a big win in the race for second, defeating Arcata 3-2 at home.
In other boys’ action, McKinleyville ran out to a comfortable 5-0 win at home to South Fork.
Fortuna 2, Arcata 1
The Huskies scored two goals early in the second half to break open a scoreless tie, and held on for the win.
With the victory, their third over Arcata this season, the Huskies improved to 9-0 in league play and 13-1-1 overall.
Aaron Mignon and Luis Atilano each scored for the Huskies, who made some halftime adjustments that paid immediate dividends after the interval.
“I think there were definitely moments when we were doing what I wanted, and there were other moments when they’re just not there yet,” Fortuna head coach Daniel Holmes said. “But that’s part of the journey of high school soccer.”
Jackson Fairbanks continued to anchor the Huskies’ defense, turning in another standout performance.
Fairbanks has been one of the league’s most consistent performers at the back all season for the Huskies.
Sophomore Fernando Atilano also continues to be a threat going forward for the Fortuna boys, with another strong showing on Wednesday.
For Arcata, Jack Taylor scored a late goal to cap a standout individual and team performance.
“I was very impressed,” head coach Ty Watkins said. “I thought it was the best game we’ve played all year. Defensively we started playing well, we played disciplined.”
Freshman Taj Ortiz was particularly impressive in midfield for the Tigers.
“He had an outstanding game today,” Watkins said.
Arcata plays at Ferndale this weekend, while Fortuna travels to St. Bernard’s.
McKinleyville 5, South Fork 0
Alex Freitas and Jackson Sandell each netted twice as the Panthers comfortably defeated South Fork at Mack High on Wednesday.
The win lifts the Panthers to 5-3-1 in the H-DNL (6-5-1 overall) and solidifies their third-place standing.
Alex Macy also scored for the Panthers, who turned in an impressive opening period and led by four goals at the interval.
“We played kind of a dream first half,” McKinleyville head coach Ryne Deppe said. “Everything we practiced worked out.”
Midfielder Narayan Weibel continued to impress in the win, and has been growing stronger as the season goes on.
“He does a lot of work and he really controls the distribution for us,” Deppe said of Weibel.
The Panthers host Del Norte on Saturday in a game that could go a long way toward deciding second place in the league standings.
“It’s a huge game for us,” Deppe said.
Del Norte came into Wednesday’s action still unbeaten in league play at 6-0-2, but have yet to play frontrunners Fortuna twice, so a win for the Panthers on Saturday could set up an exciting race for second.
Del Norte defeated McKinleyville 4-1 in Crescent City early last month.
Fortuna 3, Arcata 2
The Huskies took a huge step toward finishing second in the H-DNL while keeping their outside shot at a league title alive, with a big home win over the Tigers on Wednesday.
The victory was the third for the Fortuna girls over Arcata this season, including their second in league play.
Sophomores Sarah Hohman, Darly DIaz and Nyah Cacren each scored in the win as the home team raced out to a 3-0 halftime lead only to see the visitors come storming back after the interval.
Cacren and Sarah Killfoil each had an assist for Fortuna, which improved to 6-2-1 in league play and 7-3-1 overall.
“We kind of held on for the win,” Fortuna head coach Kevin O’Neil said. “Arcata came back on fire and kind of really wanted it in the second half.”
It was definitely a game of two halves, for both teams.
“I was thrilled with the first half,” O’Neil said. “I was very happy with it. But we could have done much better with the second half. Mentally we let down and we were caught flat-footed.”
The in-form Karina Zumbrun, this week’s Humboldt Sports Athlete of the Week, netted one of the Tigers’ two second-half goals, while Audrey Shelton, who also has been impressive lately, added the second on a fine individual effort, winding past a pair of defenders before scoring.
“We clawed back,” Arcata head coach Patrick Stranahan said.
Questionable officiating, however, was problematic for the Tigers.
“We had six or seven offside calls that were not offside and denied us one-on-one opportunities,” said Stranahan, who is a referee himself.
It wasn’t just the questionable calls that the Tigers had to battle, however, and Fortuna goalkeeper Kelli Ford, who also has been impressing lately, came up with a spectacular save to keep her team in a two-goal lead.
“It was a great save,” O’Neil said. “That really could have changed the momentum of the game there.”