By Ray Hamill — The Arcata Tigers had a point to prove in girls soccer on Wednesday, and boy did they prove it.
Matching up against McKinleyville in a top-of-the-table clash at the Arcata Community Center, the Tigers comfortably won 7-2, taking control of the game with three quick goals early in the second half.
The win lifts the Arcata girls to 3-0-1 in the Big 5 and gives them sole possession of top spot in the standings one third of the way through the conference schedule.
“We wanted to set an example,” Arcata head coach Patrick Stranahan said. “We set a goal to achieve that and I’m proud of the girls. They did that.”
The Tigers had big performances from several players and showed exactly why they were the preseason favorites to win a first Big 5 title since 2016.
Once again the win was founded on strong defense, while up front, Kyla Berman and Alia Prentiss continued to grow in stature and caused the visiting defense problems all game.
Berman scored three goals and assisted on two others.
“Her consistent pressure on their defense made a difference,” Stranahan said of Berman.
Prentiss added two goals, with Zoe Macknicki and Gracie Townsend each also scoring.
Check out two of the Arcata goals above, including a wonderful long range effort from Zoe Macknicki …
The ever-consistent Macdonald sisters also continued to impress, with Tildy assisting on two goals and Annie on one.
Gabby Davidson also had an assist in the win.
The Mack duo of Thea Trout and Soffia Reyes once again had big games for the Panthers, with each of them netting a goal.
Trout also had an assist while Gabby Watson had a really nice assist with a through ball to set up Trout for her goal.
“I think we could play better,” said McKinleyville head coach Adam Canepa, who added that Arcata played very well. “I don’t think we played our best. Hopefully we’ll rebound against Eureka.”
Canepa praised the play of Trout, who refused to give up, along with Reyes and the in-form Cora Allen, who has been playing well the last few games.
“They all gave it 100 percent,” the coach said.
Stranahan also praised the Panthers’ play.
“McKinleyville fought to the end,” he said. “They didn’t give up.”
The game was played in front of a large crowd and afterwards Stranahan praised the spectators after some recent controversy involving local soccer fans at games.
“I want to give a shoutout to the crowd that was there,” the Arcata coach said. “That’s how it’s supposed to be.”
The loss was the first for Mack in eight games this season, dropping the Panthers to 2-1-1 in the Big 5 and 6-1-1 overall.
Next up on Saturday, the Panthers play at Eureka and Arcata hosts St. Bernard’s.