By Ray Hamill — The Eureka Loggers will be tough to stop in girls soccer this season.
A team loaded with senior experience opens at home to Del Norte on Wednesday afternoon, one of seven H-DNL games on tap as the league returns to play for the first time in 16 months.
And not only do the Loggers have experience, but they have a wealth of talent to go with that experience.
“The seniors look good,” head coach Tommy Learmouth said. “You can tell they’ve been ready to go, hanging in there and hoping for the opportunity to play a season.”
Of the seven seniors, four have already committed to play at the collegiate level after graduation and have been a part of the NorCal Olympic Development Program in recent years.
Leading the way is Keylei Carroll, who is the returning co-MVP of the league and will play NCAA Division-I soccer for UC Davis next season.
Klayre Barres (Chico State), Brynn Hales (Southern Oregon University) and Aquene Tollefson (Dominican University) will also continue to play after this season and are each expected to close out their high school careers with a bang.
Fellow seniors, Rebecca Russ — an all-league honorable mention in 2019 — Anya Collingwood and Liza Crassweller are each also expected to play a big role this season, along with the team’s lone junior, Payton Goodman, who will anchor the right side of defense.
“We’re looking for a big season from a lot of players,” Learmouth said. “We’ve got some good freshmen coming in, and some of the sophomores have put in the work.”
While the second-year head coach admits they’re still working on some things, he expects the experience to pay off out on the field in lots of ways.
“We have so much experience throughout the squad, they’re really versatile with fixing and changing things on the fly,” he said.
Learmouth also likes the attitude of his players, who are appreciating the moment perhaps more than usual, something that has brought them closer.
“Right now, I like their camaraderie,” he said. “They’re out there doing the best they can, and understanding the difference this year because of a pandemic. They’re really doing a good job.”
The Loggers will play their home games at Washington Field and open on Wednesday against Del Norte at 3:30 p.m.
The Warriors, however, have just nine players and so the teams will play a nine-on-nine game.