By Ray Hamill — Unlike the school’s boys team, the South Fork girls don’t have to wait anxiously for Sunday to find out if they will make the North Coast Section soccer playoffs.
The Cubs are ranked No. 5 among Division-III schools in the section, according to MaxPreps, and are guaranteed a playoff berth with a 3-3 record against other D-III schools.
In many ways, this is where the season begins in earnest for the Cubs, who have been playing mostly larger schools in league play, with little or no hope of winning those games.
South Fork closed out the H-DNL with a record of 0-12, but played only two league games against similar-sized opponents, both against St. Bernard’s which is ranked No. 2 in the NCS and expected to challenge for the section crown.
South Fork, however, will take plenty of confidence into the postseason after matching up well against some of the Big 5 schools this fall, particularly over the second half of the season.
The Cubs, in fact, posted better results against four of their six league opponents the second time around, and they did this despite continually battling injuries.
They’ll also take confidence from the return of junior sweeper Jaylenne Harris, a big part of the team’s defense who has been injured and out of the lineup for much of the fall.
Harris played substantial minutes in the team’s regular season finale at Del Norte on Wednesday, which the Cubs lost 2-0.
Marian Del Rio also continues to play well, as does ever-reliable goalkeeper Lyndsee Brewer, who had nine saves in the loss, including stopping a penalty kick, and not for the first time this year.
The Cubs will find out their playoff opponent after the NCS seedings meeting on Sunday.
The South Fork boys, meanwhile, are in Division II instead of Division III and face a much tougher challenge to make the postseason field despite playing numerous Division-I teams in the H-DNL remarkably close.
The Cubs are ranked No. 17 in their bracket.
“The only thing we have going for us is our strength of schedule,” South Fork head coach Kelly Paine said.