By Ray Hamill — After finishing runners-up in the North Coast Section to a dominating and undefeated Eureka team in 2018, the Arcata Tigers will be hoping to go one better this fall.
And they would appear to have the experience to do so, particularly in key areas of the field.
Co-captains Zoe Leonard in defense, Zakia Elloway in midfield and Bailey Cherms up front will give head coach Patrick Stranahan a solid core to build his team’s challenge around.
“We have captains through the spine of the team,” the head coach said.
Behind them, senior Skaidra Pulley gives the Tigers a solid last line of defense between the posts after pulling off some spectacular saves a year ago.
Junior Sophia Salinas will partner Leonard in the heart of defense, with basketball star Jocelyn Bliven, who has played soccer for AC Samoa, will join the team and is expected to start at one of the fullback spots.
Sophomore Tildy Macdonald, one of three sisters on the team, will start at the other fullback slot, with her twin sister Annie playing outside midfield.
Older sister Michaela Macdonald will start in the center of the field alongside Elloway, with Linda Carlson, a transfer from Seattle, starting on the other wing.
Up front, freshman Thea Trout will be expected to adapt to the varsity game quickly and will start alongside Cherms.
“We have some very strong returning players and a younger group that’s coming up,” Stranahan said. “The chemistry is amazing already. There’s no cliques, they’re all on the same page.”
The Tigers were scheduled to kick off the season this weekend at their own Eye of the Tiger tournament, but were forced to cancel the event due to a lack of out-of-the-area teams willing to travel.