By Ray Hamill — Little was decided in the race for this year’s H-DNL championship in girls soccer on Saturday, as the Loggers and Huskies played out a 2-2 tie at Fortuna High.
Twice the Eureka girls took the lead, and on both occasions the home team reeled them back in, the second time just 10 minutes from the final whistle.
With the tie, the Huskies remain atop the league standings with a record of 7-0-1, while the Loggers remain right on their heels with a record of 5-1-1.
The Arcata girls, who defeated Del Norte 3-1 on Saturday, also are right in the mix with a record of 6-2.
The Fortuna girls will play both Arcata and Eureka in their final four games.
Saturday’s tie was probably a fair result in a game in which both teams had their chances to take the win, with both defenses and goalies again stepping up to the challenge.
Keylei Carroll gave a determined Eureka team the lead just four minutes in on a wonderful shot from the edge of the penalty area that gave Fortuna goalie Arlette Cruz little chance.
Cruz, to her credit, hardly put a foot wrong all day behind a solid defense, and mopped up possession time and again at the feet of onrushing Loggers.
Up front for Eureka, Klayre Barres set the tone from the opening kickoff, with the visitors displaying more intensity than they showed in last weekend’s surprise loss to Arcata.
But the Fortuna back line of Sarah Hohman, Malia Bolden, Moncerrat Bernal and Erica Carrillo turned in another composed performance despite the pressure.
In midfield for Fortuna, Sarah Killfoil continued her MVP-type season with another stellar performance, giving her team a lift every time they needed one and playing a role in both of her team’s goals.
“I felt like we came out with a little nervous energy in the first few minutes,” Fortuna head coach Kathleen Lynch said. “There was a lot of great effort by the girls, but we didn’t sync.
“But by the end of the first half, I was much happier with how we were playing.”
Killfoil tied the game just seven minutes before halftime on a well-placed long range free kick that she slipped past Eureka goalie Kyra Watkins at the near post.
“Sarah Killfoil is just that good when it comes to free kicks,” Eureka head coach Tommy Learmouth said of the free kick specialist. “She put them in position to tie the game twice.”
There was little to separate the two H-DNL frontrunners for much of the second half, with a back-and-forth battle that saw both teams have plenty of possession and create their share of opportunities.
Barres and Aquene Tollefson were instrumental in most of the Loggers’ best chances, while freshman teammate Jordan Brown continues to impress beyond her years in a number of different roles.
At the back, Angelina Wescott had an outstanding game, alongside center defender Rebecca Russ, who again anchored the defense throughout.
“Our defense is keeping us in games,” Learmouth said.
Carroll, as always, was effective in both defense and midfield, and has taken on a much bigger leadership role in her junior campaign.
A wild ending to a thrilling game saw Barres give the Loggers a 2-1 lead 12 minutes from time on a chance that many home fans felt was offside.
She slipped past the defense on to a through ball, shooting across the goal and in off the far post.
It mattered little when Kallia Yang tied the game once more just two and a half minutes later off another Killfoil free kick.
Yang was the first to react to a loose ball inside the penalty area from Killfoil’s delivery, slotting past Watkins to leave the teams deadlocked one more time.
In the end it was a fair result for both teams and sets up a fascinating climax to the league race.
Aubrie Hall also had a big game for the home team, working tirelessly up and down the wings, while Nyah Cacren continued to influence proceedings alongside Killfoil in the center of the field.
Watkins also continued to impress between the posts in the face of numerous Fortuna chances, and got some help from the goal post on a couple of occasions, including a first-half shot by Yang that hit the crossbar.