By Ray Hamill — Soccer and cross country take center stage in this week’s Athletes and Team of the Week, with a couple of high-scoring junior standouts getting the nod along with one of the most enduring of recent local sports dynasties.
With his team’s season on the line, McKinleyville junior Kristian Gajic turned in an outstanding performance to lead the Panthers to a thrilling and pivotal 4-3 win over Eureka in boys soccer last week, and that earns him one of our Athletes of the Week honors.
Not to be out-done, Fortuna’s Sarah Killfoil was every bit as impressive and more so.
The junior standout also led her team to a big 5-0 win at Del Norte, and followed that with a late breakthrough goal in a key matchup at Arcata on Monday.
All in all, it was a pretty good week for the Huskies and Killfoil.
And rounding out this week’s honors, Team of the Week goes to Arcata girls cross country, which has unveiled a whole new crop of stars this season as the Tigers look to continue their era of dominance.
ATHLETES OF THE WEEK
Fortuna Soccer, Junior
Killfoil was in top form at Del Norte, carrying the Huskies to a 5-0 win with four second-half goals.
More than her scoring contribution, her performance inspired a sluggish Fortuna team to a much better second half.
The junior capped a great few days with another strong performance in a key showdown at Arcata on Monday, displaying a cool head to net from the penalty spot for the only goal of the game with just five minutes remaining.
For more on Killfoil’s big week, see Fortuna girls top Arcata to keep pace in H-DNL …
McKinleyville Soccer, Junior
Gajic scored three times in a dramatic come-from-behind 4-3 win over Eureka on Wednesday, with a brilliant individual performance.
The win was crucial for the Panthers, who came into the game at 0-1-1 in league play and with their season essentially on the line.
Things looked worse when they fell behind 3-1 in the second half, but that didn’t deter Gajic, who inspired his team to three late goals and a fantastic comeback.
For more on the junior’s big week, see Gajic leads McKinleyville boys to thrilling win …
TEAM OF THE WEEK
Arcata Girls Cross Country
There simply is no stopping the Tigers when it comes to girls cross country, and their dominance appears set to continue for several more years with a fantastic crop of newcomers this season.
Joining returning junior Vivian Gerstein, one of the top distance runners in the H-DNL, is freshman star Ai-Lan McGoldrick, who has won both league races this season and is setting a blistering pace for a freshman.
Several other youngsters are also making their mark for the Tigers this season with top-10 finishes, including sophomore Sydney Trieu and freshmen Zoe Macknicki, Raven Alvarez, Aluana Thompson, Ruth Godlin-Sullivan and Cleo Barnes.
For more on the Tigers big week, see Fabulous freshmen setting the standard in H-DNL cross country …