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.