By Ray Hamill — It’s safe to say Arcata’s Alia Prentiss is enjoying this year’s playoff run.
And it’s safe to say her teammates are too.
Prentiss scored a second hat trick in two playoff games on Wednesday afternoon, as the Tigers rolled over Credo 5-0 in the North Coast Section Division-I girls soccer semifinal at McKinleyville High.
The win sends the Arcata girls on to a third straight section championship showdown this weekend as they look to secure a first-ever NCS soccer title for the school.
As the top seed, the Tigers should get the chance to host.
Through two playoff games, the Arcata girls have now outscored their opponents by a combined 13-0 with Prentiss following a Saturday hat trick against St. Helena with four more goals against Credo.
Her strike partner Kyla Berman assisted on two of those goals, while also scoring herself, as the Credo defense had no answers for the dynamic Arcata duo.
“Her and Kyla are working really well up front together,” Arcata head coach Patrick Stranahan said.
Once again, the Tigers never looked in danger of losing this one and the players came out with intent, quickly taking control of the game and setting the tone with another strong performance.
Check out the first half highlights above …
Their early pressure paid off nine minutes in when Prentiss was quick to react inside the six-yard box after the Credo keeper was unable to gather a shot from Berman.
Berman’s shot was set up by a brilliant long ball out of defense.
Arcata doubled the advantage midway through the half with Prentiss netting again after being set up on a nice pass through the defense by Zoe Macknicki.
The visitors had their opportunities but were unable to capitalize thanks to another solid performance by the Tigers defense and goalie Seri Welsh.
The senior shot stopper looked in control throughout and continues to instill confidence in her teammates with the way she reads the game.
“Seri played very strong back there for us,” Stranahan said.
Prentiss completed her hat trick seven minutes before halftime to all but end the game as a contest.
Berman added the fourth goal from close range nine minutes into the second half, before Prentiss netted a fourth for herself just two minutes later.
After that, the Credo defense held firm as Stranahan went deep to his bench to give some of his younger players some valuable NCS playoff experience.
“They played well,” the head coach said of his players. “Lots of people stepped up. We put in some freshmen and they held their own. I’m very proud of them.”
Rogue Russell, Maile Russell and Sionna Khattab all played well defensively for the Tigers, who recorded a second straight shutout, as did Quin Rush-Copple, who switched to a more offensive role in the second half and continued to cause the visitors problems.
The ever-reliable twin sisters Tildy and Annie Macdonald also continued to impress in midfield, with Tildy getting an assist.
The twins’ younger sister Soquel also played well out wide, as did Macknicki and Gracie Townsend in midfield.
The Tigers will play Eureka in the championship game after the Loggers won their semifinal at Roseland Prep on Wednesday night..