The McKinleyville Panthers posted a second 1-0 win over rivals Arcata in just four days on Saturday.
Nathan Witte scored the only goal of the game on a wonderful move set up by Blake Vogt, who crossed the ball to the far post for Witte to head home.
“It was so beautiful. The best goal of the year by far,” McKinleyville head coach Ryne Deppe said. “It was just a beautiful play.”
The Panthers head coach admits his team did not play quite as well as in Wednesday’s win, but was happy to post a rare double over the perennial powerhouse Tigers.
“Even though they’re down a little, for McKinleyville to do that over Arcata, it’s huge,” Deppe said. “I don’t remember that ever happening.”
Narayan Weibel continued to impress for the Panthers and has been a force in the middle of the field all season.
The win was the third straight for the McKinleyville boys, who improved to 4-2.
Once again, the Panthers had a lot of possession and opportunities, coming close on several occasions.
“We hit the post I don’t know how many times,” Deppe said, adding that “Arcata played better (than Wednesday) so props to them for that.”
Particularly sophomore goalkeeper Sean Shermer, who is enjoying an all-league type season once again for the Tigers.
“Their keeper just had a tremendous game,” Deppe said. “We played long ball after long ball and he was on his toes taking down every single one of them.”
The Mack coach admitted he had to change his team’s strategy because of how well Shermer was playing.
The three straight wins sets up the Panthers for a good finish, with eyes on taking down league frontrunners Fortuna.
“I think we’re just starting to find it,” Deppe said. “We’re creating opportunities, we’re just not finishing.”
Fortuna 1, Eureka 0
The Huskies are playing with a target on their back, but it’s not stopping them from winning.
On Saturday, the Eureka Loggers caused them plenty of problems but were unable to knock the seven-time defending league champions from their undefeated perch.
“They wanted it,” Fortuna head coach Daniel Holmes said of the Loggers. “They were hungry.”
The long-time Fortuna coach says he’s aware that teams are gunning for the Huskies, but added that’s just a part of the game and something his players have to adjust to.
“It’s every game,” he said. “But the boys have got to rise up to that challenge.”
They did on Saturday, barely, starting fast and enjoying a good opening 20 minutes before the Loggers built some momentum and matched them evenly the rest of the day.
“The boys played really well, so we leave feeling we deserved more,” Eureka head coach Eddie Garcia said.
“The team has a lot of new players but today it looked like a team that has been playing together for longer than a month.
“The second half we settled down and started moving the ball around really well.”
Sergio Marquez got the decisive goal on a penalty kick, as the Huskies won their sixth straight to start the season, with four of those wins coming in a shutout.
Injuries to some key players did not help matters for Fortuna, with consistent midfielder Edgar Herrera once again leading the way.
“He seems to always be there, and always has a positive attitude,” Holmes said. “He plays for the love of the game.”
For the Loggers, who dropped to 2-4, Jesus Parra was forced to switch to center back because of an injury to a teammate and he didn’t disappoint with another big showing, this time in the heart of defense.
Next up, Eureka hosts McKinleyville on Wednesday, while Fortuna hosts Arcata next Saturday.
Del Norte 5, South Fork 2
The Warriors had to battle back from an early deficit on Saturday, scoring five unanswered goals for the win.
“It was a good test of character for the boys and I am glad they showed spirit, belief and determination to keep to the game plan,” Del Norte head coach David Sanyaolu said. “I am proud of their effort.”
Ethan Kulchin scored both goals for the Cubs, who dominated the early possession and led 2-0 just 20 minutes in.
The Warriors, however, settled into the game, with Jose Regalado scoring on a free kick and then on a penalty kick either side of the break to tie things up.
Additional goals by Yahir Alanis, Edwin Zepeda and Jovanni Gonzalez secured the win against the young Cubs.
“Props to South Fork, it’s the best I have seen them play in years,” Sanyaolu said. “They were swift on the break and attacked fast through their skillful (Kulchin).”
The Cubs have struggled against some of the bigger programs this season, but half their team are freshmen, which points to a bright future for the program.
“Half my guys are so much younger, so it’s hard,” South Fork head coach Torey Haus said. “What’s nice is I’ve six or seven freshmen so three years from now I’ll have six or seven solid seniors.”
Defensively, Kobe Gellman and Gavyn Salmon each played against Del Norte.