NCS SOCCER — Four H-DNL teams in contention for a section crown

Photos by Ray Hamill/

By Ray Hamill — Get ready for an exciting few days in North Coast Section soccer with four H-DNL teams in contention for section championships.

Wednesday will feature three semifinals, including two here on the North Coast, as well as a Division-III girls championship showdown involving St. Bernard’s.

The Crusaders are the defending D-III section champs, having defeated Technology on the road two years ago in the decider, and this will be the first NCS championship game played since then because of the pandemic

If they are to repeat, they will have to do so once again on the road, and they will have to do so once again against the top seed in the division, Upper Lake, which defeated South Fork in the weekend semifinal.

The Crusaders, however, won’t lack confidence and will carry plenty of momentum into Wednesday’s championship game after battling back late to defeat Ferndale in a thrilling semifinal showdown on Friday.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

Three other H-DNL teams will be in action on Wednesday, including the top seeds in both the boys and girls Division-I brackets.

In D-I girls, No. 1 Arcata will host No. 5 Credo at McKinleyville High School in a semifinal on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m.

The high-flying Tigers won a league title this season for the first time in five years and will be hoping to follow that with a first-ever NCS title for the school in either boys or girls soccer.

The Arcata girls comfortably took care of business against St. Helena in Saturday’s quarterfinal, scoring four goals in either half on the way to an 8-0 shutout victory.

The performance was a perfect response for a team that was coming off its first loss of the season the previous week, and it shows that the Arcata girls mean business.

This is the fourth straight time the Tigers have reached an NCS semifinal and a victory will send them into a third straight championship game, which they would likely host.

Should they get there, their opponents in that championship game could be a familiar one, if the No. 3 Eureka girls can win their semifinal showdown at No. 2 Roseland Prep.

The 2018 NCS champs will be looking to qualify for a third section championship game in four seasons, and they should have an excellent shot at achieving that if they play up to their capabilities.

A young Loggers team with just one senior has come together well this fall and is playing some of its best soccer of the season right now.

The Eureka girls won their playoff opener at Fortuna on Saturday, with a sensational sophomore class leading the way once again.

A victory on Wednesday will be seen as another big step in this young team’s evolution.

Rounding out the midweek playoff action, the Fortuna boys will host St. Helena in a semifinal at Husky Field on Wednesday night at 7.

The No. 1 seed Huskies remarkably haven’t lost a game since September 2018 — a run of 62 games that includes 58 wins — and they are the two-time defending NCS Division-I champs, having won titles in 2018 and 2019.

The Fortuna boys have been consistently competitive in the NCS tournament for several years, having also won a section championship in 2016 and reaching the championship in 2015.

A win on Wednesday will send the Fortuna boys into a fifth NCS decider in six seasons.

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    2021 NCS Boys Fall Soccer Championships
    2021 NCS Boys Fall Soccer Championships
    McKinleyville mascot photo.
    Wed, 11/3
    St. Helena mascot photo.
    St. Helena
    At St. Helena

    So, McKinleyville boys lost 10-0 according to MaxPreps.

    Arcata boys lost 8-0 to Making Waves.

    Failing to understand how NCS Fall soccer is competitive or fun or healthy or building stronger programs when the H-DNL commissioners decided to not participate in winter soccer with all those other Fall season NCS schools that shifted over to winter already.

    Sure, it looks better on playoff paper until that one or few leftover schools down south with bigtime programs that stayed in Fall season wallop the competition.

    The reality is that sticking with the Fall schedule benefits the feelings of H-DNL big school programs more come playoff time, not any competitive education. A championship feels good, after the first 4-5 years post big shift, no high school players entering H-DNL soccer programs understand that their schedules are watered down, and the level of play vastly diminished.

    Prior to the big shift, H-DNL would be lucky to win a playoff match, let alone a section championship that no H-DNL team could ever win not named St. Bernards girls in the lowest of all divisions, level of play.

    In the old Fall format, Arcata would have lost not 8-0 to the top program, but rather a competitive 2-1, 3-1, 3-2 final to a school which would lose by something similar to the top team, if not shut-out.

    In blowouts, aside from injuries, ejections and such, just the depressive mindset of getting walloped can cause a team’s moral and effort to plunge, usually resulting in more scoring for the winning side.

    And that is Fall Soccer for H-DNL since the big shift, to be one of the minority leftovers in order to have an extremely much easier path for conference champs at reaching section championships in order to claim being a winner while uplifting the feelings of the student athlete and program and league, even though the set-up is no different in optics and outcomes as that of matching-up a high school team against a junior high school team.

    What is the greatness in that level of demotion?

    What is so fun in getting walloped by remaining powerhouse programs, as opposed to playing more equal programs in a tightly played contest however and whomever the final outcome favors??🤷‍♂️

    Yay, let’s go try out for the school soccer team, they lost 8-0 last year in the playoffs…not a positive result that inspires athletes to have the necessary desire to participate. Results like this are a detraction, seld-inflicting, etc…

    So sad that the H-DNL had to go the route of weaker competition and level of play in order to better secure section titles.

    Obviously, the big schools have benefitted the most.

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