By Ray Hamill — The Eureka Loggers got their season off to a flying start with a comprehensive win over visiting Del Norte at Washington Fields on Wednesday, while the Ferndale Wildcats posted the most dramatic victory of opening day with a last-gasp winner at St. Bernard’s.
In other H-DNL girls action on Wednesday, Fortuna battled back to defeat Arcata, while McKinleyville pulled away in the second half to defeat South Fork in Miranda.
Eureka 9, Del Norte 0
The Loggers opened strong and never looked back, scoring five goals in the opening 20 minutes.
Klayre Barres scored a hat trick and added an assist, while Lila Ekholdt and Aquene Tollefson each netted twice, with the latter adding an assist.
“I thought we played well,” Eureka head coach Tommy Learmouth said. “It was a solid way to start the season, and a reward for the girls working hard in practice.”
A senior-heavy Eureka team is expected to be among the best on the North Coast this season.
Sophomores Ginny Brooks and Torrin Baty each also scored in the win, with Brynn Hales and Liza Crassweller each getting an assist.
With the comfortable win well in hand early, Learmouth was able to give all of his girls plenty of playing time.
Next up, Eureka hosts St. Bernard’s on Saturday, while Del Norte hosts Arcata.
Fortuna 2, Arcata 1
Sarah Killfoil and Kallia Yang combined impressively up front to secure a comeback win for the defending league champs and give new head coach Jennifer Femenella her first win in the position.
Trailing 0-1, the Huskies tied the score before halftime when Yang found the back of the net off an assist from Killfoil.
In the second half, Yang repaid the favor, assisting on Killfoil’s winning goal.
“The first goal gave the girls a bit of confidence and we started communicating and playing together, and we answered back,” Femenella said.
In addition to the two standout forwards, Nyah Cacren had a good day in the middle of the field, while goalkeeper Arlette Cruz made a couple of big saves to help secure the win.
“I’m very proud of my team,” said Femenella, whose players have had to scramble to find a field to practice on and have been limited in their preseason preparation. “They’ve put a lot of effort into it.”
Next up, on Saturday Fortuna hosts South Fork and Arcata travels to Del Norte.
McKinleyville 5, South Fork 1
Thea Trout scored a hat trick as the Panthers got the season off to a flying start with a comfortable victory in Miranda.
The game was close in the opening half, with just one goal separating the two teams at halftime.
The home team, however, had problems in the second half as the visitors pulled away.
“In the first half we hung with them pretty well,” South Fork head coach Ann Constantino said. “We ran out of gas in the second half.”
McKinleyville’s Soffia Reyes and Mackenzie Bray each also scored in the win, while teammate Chloe Alves assisted on two goals.
Summer Contreras scored South Fork’s lone goal in the opening half, off an assist from senior Marian Del Rio, who had an impressive day in midfield.
The Cubs feature seven newcomers on a squad of 15.
“It was a promising team effort for a young group,” Constantino said.
Two of the new players — freshman Kalina Paine and sophomore Olivia Perkins — both played well in defense for the Cubs.
Next up, South Forks plays at Fortuna on Saturday and McKinleyville hosts Ferndale on Monday.
Ferndale 2, St. Bernard’s 1
The most exciting finish of the day came at St. Bernard’s, with the Ferndale girls netting two late goals for the win in their first game of soccer since the fall of 2018.
Freshman Reaghan Langer enjoyed a stellar debut and scored both goals, the second taking a fortuitous rebound off a Crusaders defender on the final kick of the game.
“The difference in the game was they didn’t hang their heads and they stayed positive (when SB took the lead),” Ferndale head coach Beth Anderson said. “I was super impressed with all of them. It was their first time playing in a game and they all played hard and played through the struggles of when we hit the wall.”
Both teams visibly tired late in the season opening game.
“We definitely could see our fitness was lacking,” St. Bernard’s coach Phil Rouse said. “We ran out of gas, but other than that I was really proud of the freshmen. They showed a lot of courage and none of them gave up.”
Jessica Rutter scored St. Bernard’s only goal early in the second half to break the deadlock, while senior goalie Sabrina Gardner had an outstanding day between the posts, repeatedly denying a dangerous Ferndale attack.
Even more impressively, Gardner has never played the position before Tuesday’s practice.
“It was a baptism by fire and she passed,” Rouse said. “She did outstanding. She was the player of the match for us.”
She wasn’t the only goalkeeper to impressive, with a strong showing by Ferndale’s Bella Stephens at the other end of the field.
“She gave us some really strong leadership from the back of the field,” Anderson said of Stephens, who finished with 10 saves. “It was a good match. Both teams played well for that being the first time we’ve played in a long time. It was a nice start to the season.”
Next up, St. Bernard’s plays at Eureka on Saturday and Ferndale plays at McKinleyville on Monday.