The Eureka girls kept their title challenge on track with a come-from-behind 2-1 win over St. Bernard’s in H-DNL soccer at Crusader Field on Wednesday.
With a huge title-deciding matchup looming against Fortuna on Saturday, the Loggers had to fight all the way for this one, overcoming a defensive-minded SB team that played its game plan to near perfection.
“(The players) know it’s a big week, and I think we were nervous knowing that we could make a mistake, and we made a mistake,” Eureka head coach Tommy Learmouth said. “But we fought back and we really showed our ability to rise to the challenge.”
The Crusaders took the lead 26 minutes in, when Shelby Jordan headed home after a rocket of a Marayah Tomlinson free kick had been tipped off the crossbar by Eureka goalie Kyra Watkins.
Playing a 4-5-1 formation, the Crusaders gave up possession but limited the Eureka chances throughout.
Both of the Loggers goals came on long range efforts from outside the box, the first by Aquene Tollefson to tie the game before halftime, and the second by Keylei Carroll, on a shot described by St. Bernard’s head coach Phil Rouse as “a thing of beauty.”
Carroll’s work rate drove on the Loggers, who also got big performances by Rebecca Russ in defense, as well as Tollefson and standout freshman Jordan Brown in midfield and attack.
“They showed me how well they can play tonight,” Learmouth said. “They brought the intensity.”
Rachel Rodrigues again stepped up for the Crusaders in goal, stopping seven of the nine shots Eureka had on target.
“We made it a competitive game,” Rouse said. “I am very proud of our team discipline to hold our shape and take away their strengths effectively.”
With the win the Loggers improved to 8-1-1 in league play and remain two points back of Fortuna, which improved to 9-0-1 with a key 2-1 win over Arcata on Wednesday.
The two H-DNL frontrunners meet at Albee Stadium on Saturday at 3 p.m. in a game that will decide the league championship.
A win for the Loggers will likely see them claim a share of the league crown, while a tie would give the Huskies at least a share of the title with one game still remaining and a win would guarantee them the championship outright.
Eureka plays South Fork on Monday to close out league play, while the Huskies host McKinleyville next Wednesday in their league finale.