By Ray Hamill — It’s a new season with the same old question.
Can anyone stop the Huskies?
The Fortuna boys have won the last seven H-DNL soccer titles and have built a North Coast dynasty under head coach Daniel Holmes.
Last season, the Fortuna girls team joined the party by winning its first ever league title, meaning both teams will go into the new season as defending champs.
Both squads open on the road on Wednesday afternoon and will be tested right out of the starting gates against Arcata.
Numbers certainly haven’t been a problem for either, with 30 boys showing up for tryouts and both teams keeping a roster of 20.
“We had a really good turnout,” new girls head coach Jennifer Femenella said. “We definitely have some interest.”
Key to the girls defending their championship will be the play of seniors Sarah Killfoil, Sarah Hohman and Erica Carrillo, each of whom was a first-team all-league selection last season.
Hohman will anchor the team’s defense alongside Carrillo, while Killfoil is expected to provide a spark once again in the center of the field.
Overall, the new head coach likes how her players are bonding.
“I like our family values,” said Femenalla, who was an assistant coach on last year’s championship team and knows most of the players well. “I think we all work together as a family and really talk each other up and work well with each other.”
The number of new players showing up this season will benefit the defending champions moving forward.
“We have a lot of freshmen and we’re getting to know them and their talents,” Femenella said. “And our seniors are good at being mentors and helping the young players.”
And all of them are glad to be back out there.
“We’re super happy we even get to play soccer at this point,” the new head coach said. “Everybody’s really excited to just be on the field.”
Plenty of experience on the boys team
Until someone can de-throne them, the Huskies will continue to be the team to beat on the North Coast.
And this season’s squad has plenty of experience and a good soccer IQ.
“I think we all love the game, and that’s a huge thing,” Holmes said. “We’re all students of the game and I enjoy that about them. They have the same passion for the game as I do.”
The Huskies have several key players back, including 2019 first-team all-league selections Sergio Marquez, Angel Ornelas and Antonio Garcinuno.
Marquez will start up front, while Ornelas will anchor the defense alongside Oscar Avendano.
Garcinuno and Edgar Herrera will start in the center of midfield.
“Hopefully they can distribute and play off each other attacking and defensively,” Holmes said of the midfield partnership. “They’re both talented and they have good vision.”
Junior Cruz is also expected to play a big role this season.
“I’m hoping they’re creative,” Holmes said of his team. “I’m hoping we hold possession when we have possession and I always want to build out of the back.”
The girls kick off at 3:30 p.m,, followed by the boys at 5:30 p.m. and both games will be played at McKinleyville High.