The McKinleyville Panthers set themselves up for playoff inclusion with a well-deserved 2-2 tie in boys soccer at Fortuna on Wednesday.
The Panthers, who stretched their unbeaten run to four straight games, pulled out the tie on a brilliant Narayan Weibel goal from 22 yards out with just 10 minutes remaining.
“It was an absolutely unforgettable goal,” McKinleyville head coach Ryne Deppe said.
And it was a deserved result.
“Hat’s off to McKinleyville. They outplayed us tonight,” said Fortuna head coach Daniel Holmes, whose team came into the game having already clinched a seventh straight league title. “They won pretty much every 50/50 ball. They wanted it more.”
It was the second tie between the two teams in two meetings this season, an impressive return for the Panthers against the undefeated league champs, who won nine of their other 10 H-DNL games.
The Huskies honored both of their seniors before the game on what was senior night, including Geovaney Ramirez, who scored a go-ahead goal early in the second half to break a 1-1 deadlock at the interval.
Fernando Atilano gave the home team the early lead before Caleb Coke equalized from the penalty spot.
Senior midfielder Oliver Herrera was also honored before the game.
“He’s had a great season,” Holmes said of the senior who starts on the right of midfield. “He stepped into a new role this season. And he’s always positive.”
Fellow senior Ramirez has been one of the team’s most consistent performers.
“He anchors that whole back line for us,” Holmes said of Ramirez.
Alex Macy and Lalo Benavides-Garb both had big games for the McKinleyville defense, while Nurzat Mukhamedali continued his recent good run with another strong display in center midfield alongside the ever-consistent Weibel.
In other boys games, the Arcata Tigers set themselves up for the playoffs with a comfortable 10-1 win at St. Bernard’s.
Del Norte also won its league finale, 2-0 at home to South Fork.
Jayden Paine and Sterling York each continued to play well in defense for the Cubs, who will have to wait until Sunday to find out their playoff fate.
The Cubs are a Division-II team, but have played just one other D-II program all year, instead matching up mostly against the larger H-DNL schools.
“The only thing we have going for us is our strength of schedule,” South Fork head coach Kelly Paine said.
No scoring details were available for Del Norte.
Arcata 5, St. Bernard’s 1
The Tigers will go into the North Coast Section playoffs with some momentum after a comfortable win at St. Bernard’s on Wednesday.
And while there was plenty of offense in the win, it was the team’s defense that once again set the tempo.
“As always the back line was stellar, stopping several attacks and bringing the play right back up the field,” Arcata head coach Patrick Stranahan said. “And the team did a really good job of putting passes together and working the ball through the midfield to create opportunities up front.”
Freshman Thea Trout scored two goals in the win, as well as assisting on two more, as the Tigers improved to 9-3 in league and 11-3 overall.
Zakiya Elloway and Micahaela Macdonald each also scored, while Bailey Cherms had a goal and an assist.
The team’s starting defense of Zoe Leonard, Sophia Salinas, Tildy Macdonald and Jocelyn Bliven continued to impress at the back.
The Tigers are likely to receive a top-three seed for the NCS Division-I bracket, with the playoffs kicking off next week.
Shelby Jordan scored for St. Bernard’s off a penalty kick early in the second half, while in goal Rachel Rodrigues continued to shine with nine saves.
SB also had big contributions from their seniors, including Marayah Tomlinson, Mackenzie Finck, Jordan, Rodrigues and Josie Peterson.