By Ray Hamill — A rematch of last season’s North Coast Section championship game in girls soccer did not disappoint on Saturday afternoon.
Defending league and NCS champion Eureka traveled to Arcata and came away with a pivotal 2-0 win, but the Tigers gave the visitors everything they could handle in a hard-fought and entertaining clash.
“That was a battle,” Arcata head coach Patrick Stranahan said. “It’s what you expect from Eureka and Arcata.”
After a scoreless first half, the Loggers broke the deadlock shortly after the interval on an Aquene Tollefson goal.
The win, however, wasn’t secured until the final minute of play when junior defender Keylei Carroll found the back of the net on a rocket of a header off a Brynn Hales corner kick.
Hales assisted on both Eureka goals, as the Loggers improved to 3-0 in H-DNL play and Arcata dropped to 1-1.
“I didn’t think we played well in the first half,” Eureka head coach Tommy Learmouth said. “Arcata executed their game plan well and gave us everything we could handle.”
The Loggers, however, settled into the game and despite allowing the home team a lot of possession, they held firm with some solid defense and a more composed second half.
Carroll and Rebecca Russ once again led a disciplined performance from the Eureka back line, which has barely set a foot wrong through their opening three games, alongside Marissa Hall, Amelia Staiano and Angelina Wescott.
Goalkeeper Kyra Watkins also stepped up and kept her team in the lead with a spectacular save on a well-placed Thea Trout free kick late in the game.
Stranahan was more than happy with the way his players performed despite the loss.
“There were so many great efforts,” the head coach said. “It was a great team effort.”
Tollefson also had a big game for the visitors, despite taking a knock at one stage.
“She went right back in there and played lights out,” Learmouth said.