By Ray Hamill — It took the Loggers a while to find a way past a stubborn and well-organized McKinleyville defense in H-DNL girls soccer on Wednesday, but once they did they was no going back.
The Eureka girls, who have dominated every team this season, eventually won 7-0 on the strength of five second-half goals.
They are now 7-0 on the season and have not allowed a single goal, while outscoring their opponents 41-0 in their six games played (one win came by forfeit).
And the frightening part is they appear to be getting even better as the season moves on.
“I thought it was the best game we’ve played in terms of possession and moving the ball,” head coach Tommy Learmouth said after Wednesday’s win. “The McKinleyville defense was tough to crack, but we stuck with it.”
The Panthers, to their credit, played well against a Eureka team that features several seniors who will be playing at the collegiate level in the fall.
Particularly on defense, where they were composed in the face of the relentless Eureka attack, with sophomore goalkeeper Taya Gomes turning in a strong performance once again.
“I think our defense held it together for a while,” said Canepa, who switched to a more offensive formation in the second half as the game began to slip away. “We made a formation change and went more aggressive, and that led to Eureka getting more chances.”
The Loggers had several players step up once again, including the red-hot Aquene Tollefson, who is closing out her high school in style and finished with two more goals and two more assists.
Tollefson, who is one of this week’s Humboldt Sports Athletes of the Week, now has five goals and six assists in her last three starts.
Freshman Lila Ekholdt also continued to play a big role for the Loggers, finishing with a hat trick and adding an assist, while ever-dangerous senior forward Klayre Barres scored once and had an assist.
Liza Crassweller also scored, with additional assists from Keylei Carroll, Ella Tollefson and Kaitlin Giacone.
Giacone, a freshman, had one of her best games yet and caused the Panthers a lot of problems out wide.
At the back, junior Payton Goodman also had a big game for the Loggers.
“Payton Goodman had her best game in terms of moving the ball up and down the field,” Learmouth said.
The head coach also some words of praise for his back line, which has been exceptional all season, particularly the play of Becca Russ and Maia Hales.
For McKinleyville, sophomore forward Thea Trout kept the Eureka defense on its toes throughout the game.
“Thea Trout is as fast as ever and she definitely caused some headaches,” Learmouth said.
With just 13 players on hand, the Panthers battled to the end.
“I’m always proud of my team,” Canepa said. “They never give up. They play till the end of the game. Going up against a team as good as Eureka, it’s hard to compete against them, but they refused to quit.”