By Ray Hamill — Here we go again.
The Arcata Tigers upped their game in the second half of Saturday’s North Coast Section Division-I soccer showdown at home to Credo, pulling out a 3-1 win and setting up a rematch with an old foe in the semifinal round.
The No. 3 seed Tigers will now play on Wednesday at No. 2 Eureka, which comfortably took care of business against Cloverdale on Friday night, in what will be a third meeting between the two local powerhouses this season and a rematch of last year’s NCS decider.
For now, however, the Tigers will enjoy Saturday’s hard-fought win, which was a battle.
A sluggish first half had them trailing early, before senior Zakiya Elloway tied things up shortly before the interval.
The Tigers, however, began to take control of the game after the break, with a pair of goals by freshman Thea Trout giving them a cushion before a lot of late possession for the visitors made for an exciting finish.
“We came out slow, the girls know we did,” Arcata head coach Patrick Stranahan said. “In the second half we came out and did what we were supposed to do.”
Another composed performance from the team’s defense gave the Tigers a foundation going forward, with the ever reliable Zoe Leonard and Sophia Salinas soaking up much of the pressure that came their way.
“They’re getting stronger every game,” Stranahan said of the duo, who are each only juniors.
It’s a defensive system the Arcata defenders — who also include Tildy Macdonald and Jocelyn Bliven — know well at this stage and one that has become second nature to them.
“They’ve got it mastered,” Stranahan said.
In midfield, Elloway and Michaela Macdonald worked tirelessly to break down a confident and at times fluid Credo team, while setting in motion numerous attacks for the ever-dangerous Trout.
Senior Bailey Cherms also was instrumental in several of the team’s better attacking moves.
“I’m really proud of this team,” Stranahan said.
The Tigers split two league games with Eureka this fall, losing the first at home 2-0 and winning the second on the road 2-1.