By Ray Hamill — The Arcata girls comfortably advanced to play No. 2 seed Fortuna in the Humboldt-Del Norte League Tournament, with an 8-0 win at home to Del Norte on Tuesday.
Senior midfielder Karina Zumbrun scored four times for the No. 3 seed Tigers, who led 3-0 at halftime and never looked in danger of losing.
“The girls did really well,” Arcata head coach Patrick Stranahan said. “We tried a new formation in the second half, we were feeling it out, and I was pretty happy with them.”
A disciplined Del Norte back four kept the Tigers at bay for much of the first half, and despite plenty of possession, the home team was unable to create many real chances early on.
The industrious midfield pairing of Zumbrun and Nina Crossen combined on a nice one-two that forced a good save from the Del Norte keeper about 15 minutes in, while Zumbrun tested the Warriors keeper again just minutes later on another long range effort.
The Tigers got the breakthrough half an hour in when Zakiya Elloway-Wonenberg found Annie Macdonald out wide, and the freshman was able to hit the back the net on what appeared to be a cross from the edge of the penalty area that sailed over the keeper’s reach.
A late first-half flurry of goals saw the Tigers take a 3-0 advantage into the interval, with Zumbrun netting twice, including a beautiful shot into the top corner of the net from about 30 yards out on a free kick. (See video)
The Arcata backline, anchored again by Gwyn Stratton and Zoe Leonard, held the visitors in check for much of the game, although the Warriors created a handful of chances.
Up front for Arcata, Elloway-Wonenberg was the most dangerous of the forwards in the opening half, causing the Del Norte defense countless problems with her deep runs into the box.
Zumbrun and Crossen dominated the midfield exchanges, as they have for much of the season.
The Tigers added five goals in the second half, including two more from Zumbrun, and one each from Crossen, Ava Killoran and Michaela Macdonald.
With the win, the Tigers improved to 12-6-1 on the season and will now play at No. 2 seed Fortuna on Thursday at 6 p.m.
The showdown will be the fourth between the two rivals this season, with the Huskies getting the better of exchanges in all three so far, including an exciting 3-2 clash three weeks ago.
But there has been little between the two sides on each occasion.
“Every game, it’s been like we don’t get the right bounce,” Stranahan said. “But no excuses, they ended up on top. We’ve just got to go out and get it.”
The Tigers have won five of their six games since then, and the head coach has seen improvement from his team.
“We’ve been on an upward arc,” he said. “Hopefully we’re peaking at the right time.”
Fortuna comes into the game at 12-3-1 on the season.