By Ray Hamill — Seven of the 10 local teams to make the North Coast Section playoffs in soccer are still playing and will be in action over the next two days, including five who had a first-round bye.
At Fortuna, the Huskies will host a doubleheader on Friday night, with the boys playing Credo at 5 p.m., and the girls playing St. Helena at 7 p.m.
Both Fortuna teams are seeded No. 1 in their respective Division-I brackets after each clinched an H-DNL title last week.
And the Huskies have been taking full advantage of an uninterrupted week on the practice field.
“It’s nice to have a block of practices in a row, and kind of just getting in a bit of a rhythm,” Fortuna head coach Kathleen Lynch said.
The Huskies (14-0-2) will be eager to avoid a sluggish start on Friday, something that has been problematic for the league champs much of the season, and something they can ill-afford to see again as the level of competition rises in the playoffs.
St. Helena (12-5) is seeded No. 8 and is coming off a penalty shootout win over No. 9 Cloverdale on Wednesday.
Also in action in Division I on Friday night, the No. 2 Eureka Loggers (9-1-2) will open their playoff campaign against No. 7 Cloverdale (11-4-1) at Albee Stadium at 7 p.m.
The Loggers are the defending NCS champions and are looking to reach a third straight championship showdown.
“The girls are excited and nervous,” first-year head coach Tommy Learmouth said. “And I think that’s a good thing coming into a game against team you don’t know anything about. It’s a combination of being nervous of something new and nervous of something exciting.”
Learmouth hopes that will keep his girls on their toes and focused as they prepare for the Eagles.
The No. 3 seed Arcata girls open the Division-I playoffs on Saturday, when they host No. 6 Credo.
The Tigers battled the Huskies and Loggers for the league title all the way to the final week, closing out the regular season with a record of 11-3, including six wins in their final seven games.
The Tigers are looking for a second straight trip to the D-I championship game, and like their H-DNL rivals they will be favored to advance against the Rohnert Park school.
In Division-III girls action, No. 2 seed St. Bernard’s (6-10-2) will open its campaign at home to No. 3 Upper Lake (11-7-1) in a semifinal showdown.
No. 1 Technology plays No. 4 Calistoga in the other semifinal, and if the top two seeds succeed this weekend we will have a repeat of last year’s championship game on Wednesday.
The Fortuna boys, meanwhile, are undefeated on the season with a record of 13-0-3 and face a No. 9 Credo team that knocked off Willits 1-0 in the opening round of Division-I play.
Arcata (9-3-3) is seeded No. 5 in the same bracket and will travel to play No. 4 Fort Bragg (13-2-3) on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.
No. 10 McKinleyville, fresh off a big 1-0 win at Del Norte on Wednesday, will head to the Bay Area on Saturday to play No. 2 Making Waves at 2 p.m.
The Marlins barely beat the Panthers 1-0 with a late goal in a preseason tournament at Mack High.