By Ray Hamill — The dream of a first-ever section title for Arcata girls soccer is alive and well.
On Saturday, the Tigers comfortably took care of business in the quarterfinal round of the North Coast Section Division-I soccer playoffs, rolling over St. Helena 8-0.
The No. 1 seeded Arcata girls scored four goals in each half and ended the game as a contest before the break.
“A great, great all-around team effort,” is how head coach Patrick Stranahan described it. “They played for each other and it was beautiful.”
The Tigers will now host a semifinal game on Wednesday against No. 5 Credo, which defeated McKinleyville on Saturday.
Several players stepped up for Arcata in the win, including Maile Russell, who set the tone defensively in the opening seconds and was outstanding all day.
The game got off to a lively start, with both teams threatening early and both keepers kept busy.
The visiting Saints almost struck just seconds in on a breakaway, but Russell nullified the threat after winning possession back and clearing the danger.
Check out Arcata’s first goal above …
Between the posts, Arcata’s Seri Welsh was her usual composed self early on as the Saints created some scoring chances, but the Tigers grew into the game and began to dominate possession in midfield.
The industrious Kyla Berman was involved in four of her team’s goals and opened the scoring 16 minutes in, shooting across the goalmouth after being set up on a beautifully weighted pass from Zoe Macknicki.
Macknicki scored the first of her three goals just eight minutes later after being set up by Berman, and she then added a third goal from the penalty spot 15 minutes before halftime.
Alia Prentiss netted minutes before halftime to end any chance of a comeback and was outstanding once again.
Prentiss also finished with a hat trick and an assist, while Berman would add a second goal and a second assist in the second half.
Tildy Macdonald continued to dictate play in front of the back four and also had an assist, while her twin sister Annie Macdonald was hugely influential throughout the game once again.
In goal, Welsh made nine saves and had to withstand sone early pressure before the Tigers took control.
The performance was also a very strong response to the team’s first loss of the season last week and will give the Arcata girls plenty of confidence and momentum heading into the business end of the section tournament.