By Ray Hamill — The Arcata boys scored two second-half goals for a deserved win in the North Coast Section soccer playoffs on Wednesday night, overcoming visiting Willits 2-0 at McKinleyville High School.
Adrian York and Ezra Jones each scored for the Tigers, who were the better team on the night, making better use of their possession, and creating the better opportunities.
“I thought we played pretty well,” Arcata head coach Ty Watkins said. “We were much more composed than we’ve been. It came together.”
The win sets up a trip to San Francisco to take on No. 1 seed International in the second round on Saturday.
“We’re excited,” Watkins said. “We just need to do what we’ve been doing. These guys have put in the hard work.”
The visitors started the stronger of the two teams, taking to the game to the home team from the opening kickoff.
A disciplined defensive performance from the Tigers held firm early, however, as the home team quickly settled down, with the center back pairing of Cory Soll and Zach Oakland setting the tempo.
Senior Jayden Moorehead came closest to breaking the deadlock for the Tigers on two occasions in the opening half, including a blistering shot off the outside of the goalpost 12 minutes in.
Moorehead came close again a few minutes later, this time shooting just off target after a nice run down the right flank and a dangerous cross into the penalty area by Riley Moser.
The game was evenly split for much of the first half in terms of possession and the teams went into the break still scoreless.
The second half, however, belonged to the home team.
Jones almost got the breakthrough eight minutes in, shooting just over the bar on a golden opportunity.
It mattered little as York opened the scoring just moments later, heading past the Willits keeper off a corner kick.
The goal appeared to spur on the home team, which began to look more composed on the ball, passing with confidence, while continuing to hold the visiting attack in check in defense.
On the few occasions, the Wolverines did manage to breach the defense, Arcata goalkeeper Marcus Bensen was there to mop things up on the way to keeping a clean sheet.
The Tigers sealed the win with just over five minutes remaining in the clash, with York turning provider this time, winning possession and passing to Jones, whose shot from the edge of the penalty area found the back of the net.
Arcata’s Taj Beck-Ortiz and Arthur Frye each also played well in attack, keeping the visiting defense on its toes throughout, while Zane Clarke and Scott Malkus were solid on the outside.
Two noteworthy thoughts:
Playoff bracket links from ncs
The silliness by the high school players to act like professional players now pointing up into the near nonexistent crowd, air kissing showmanship….this, that whatever….silly stupid show off crap…play the game and leave the antics at home…like picking daisies on the field of play at 8 years of age…hand clapping, team congratulation circles is normal for a team, proper sportsmanship at the youth level…all the me me me social antics by younger athletes lately sends the wrong message at a youth level and really is plane popularity pimping … the professional athletes can get away with it because they’re actually that good of a ball player that they can get away with it…youth are not even up to that level on an individual basis, it is why focusing on team concepts at the youth level is so important…to learn to play and celebrate as a team…these antics are very recent in league history…kind of an effect of the facebook era it seems.
Jeez… Lighten up a bit, HOJ. That goal meant a lot to those players, and if that means pointing to the sky and/or blowing kisses to the crowd after a goal then so be it. If you want to call them out for trash talking and getting in the faces of opposing players, I get that, but your protestations are a little over the top. Soccer is joy, and the celebration is merely an expression of that joy. Nice goal, and an appropriate celebration in my eyes.
The antics are silly, score the goal, move on…youth is for team concept, not individual hollywoodism… if it was religious and pointing up to the sky to the almighty Lord Creator then that’s one thing, but that just wasn’t the case now was it…