By Ray Hamill — Bring on Arcata.
Since losing to the Tigers in early October, in a game that would cost them a third straight H-DNL soccer championship, the Eureka girls have looked like they’re on a mission.
That continued on Friday night, as the No. 2 seed Loggers comfortably took care of Cloverdale in their North Coast Section Division-I playoff opener by a score of 4-0 at Albee Stadium.
The game was nowhere near as close as the final score would suggest, with the Eagles goalkeeper making numerous big stops throughout.
Regardless, it was an impressive start to the postseason for the defending NCS champs, who advance to the semifinals and look well up to the task of a third straight trip to the championship game.
Standing in their way will be either No. 3 Arcata or No. 6 Credo, who play their quarterfinal on Saturday.
And there’s no doubt which of them the Eureka girls would like to see.
“After losing to Arcata, the girls are really excited to potentially get another crack at them,” Eureka head coach Tommy Learmouth said after Friday’s win. “It’s that rivalry, it’s still there.”
It was the Tigers the Loggers beat a year ago in the NCS decider, and a rematch in this year’s semifinals would be a game for North Coast fans to savor.
The Loggers did their part to get there by taking care of a Cloverdale team that kept it close until the second half.
Klayre Barres netted a hat trick of goals for the home team, the second coming shortly after the interval on a slick individual move that saw her slip around two defenders before calmly slotting past the Cloverdale keeper.
Keylei Carroll made it 3-0 midway through the second on a wonderfully struck free kick, not her first of the season, before Barres closed out the scoring just one minute later.
It was nothing less than a rampant Loggers team deserved.
“I was very happy with the win, and very happy with the way we played,” Learmouth said. “We had a week off, and to come in and start with the intensity we had was great to see.”
And the Loggers appear to be peaking at the right time.
“I definitely felt like it was our best game all year in terms of possession and being able to keep up with the ball,” Learmouth said. “We were moving the ball up and down the field and taking what the other team gave us.”
Carroll also had an assist in the win, while freshman Jordan Brown continued to impress in a pivotal role in the center of the park for the Loggers, also assisting on one of Barres’ goals.
Kellina Pratton and Kyra Watkins combined for the shutout between the posts, with another composed performance from the team defense, with Carroll and Rebecca Russ again anchoring the unit.
“Once again our defense stepped up to the challenge and rose to the occasion,” the head coach said. “The win was a great team win. A lot of girls got to play and get some valuable playoff experience.”
The Loggers will host Wednesday’s semifinal.
“I just want to keep playing, the girls just want to keep playing,” Learmouth said. “We want to go as long as possible.”
Freshmen Torrin Baty and Sidney Madson each also impressed in the win, causing numerous problems for the visitors.