By Ray Hamill — The Humboldt-Del Norte League released its all-league selections in boys and girls soccer on Monday, with seven players receiving MVP honors.
In the Big 5, players from both second-placed teams were named outfield MVPs, while the MVP goalkeepers came from the two championship teams.
For the boys, Arcata’s Ethan Gyenis was named MVP, along with Fortuna goalkeeper Alonzo Garcia, while for the girls, Eureka’s Lila Ekholdt was named MVP, along with Arcata goalie Seri Welsh.
In the Little 3 girls, St. Bernard’s striker Emma Wilson was named co-MVP with Ferndale striker Reaghan Langer, while the latter’s teammate Bella Stephens was named MVP goalkeeper.
Stephens earned the respect of her teammates and opponents with her dazzling performances between the posts while helping the Wildcats to a second-place finish in league play.
“Bella is athletic, confident and fearless, which is the reason she can be a leader from the back of the field and has earned the respect from everyone on our team and everyone we play,” Ferndale head coach Beth Anderson said of the senior. “She made save after save to keep our team competitive in games both in league and section playoffs. I really hopes she goes on to play college soccer.”
Gyenis, meanwhile, scored 17 goals in 17 games to lead the way for the Tigers who placed second in the boys Big 5 and made it to the second round of the NCS playoffs.
“Ethan is a year-round soccer player and we are blessed he enjoys competing in the high school league,” Arcata head coach John Davidson said of the junior. “He is an intuitive player, has a great shot, loves to practice and improve, and contributes to make those around him excel.”
Ekholdt is just a sophomore and has had an immediate impact playing at the high school level in 2021, playing a pivotal role in the Loggers NCS championship run this fall.
“I think she’s one of the most dynamic players in the league,” Eureka head coach Tommy Learmouth said of the attacking midfielder. “And she shows it every time she has the ball at her feet.
“I thought in just about every game she played she was the best player on the field.”
Likewise with Arcata’s Welsh, who was a consistent presence between the posts and played a major role in her team’s Big 5 championship.
And it was her self-sacrifice that set her apart, according to her coach.
“Seri threw herself in danger’s way time and time again,” Arcata head coach Patrick Stranahan said. “Her leadership and direction from the back was critical. She lifted her entire team from pregame through to final whistles.
“They had confidence in her and that is huge for a team. Other teams in league respected her skill and her never-say-die attitude.
“She’s a great keeper!”
Garcia was equally effective for the Huskies and also played a pivotal role in the team’s march towards an eighth straight league title.
He also stepped up his game in the NCS when his team needed him the most, making countless saves in the playoff run to keep his team in games.
“Alonso put the time in to become a better keeper,” Fortuna head coach Daniel Holmes said of the senior shot stopper. “He commanded his box and directed his back line. He made some huge saves for us throughout the season.”
Wilson and Langer also had huge contributions in both league play and section playoffs.
“Reaghan is extremely quick and has great ball handling skills,” Ferndale head coach Beth Anderson said of the pacy sophomore striker, who averaged 2.5 goals a game. “She can sprint to win balls, dribble well to beat multiple players and has great finishes.
“She also passes well and has really grown in her game understanding this season, which makes her even harder to defend.
“She will continue to be fun to watch the next two seasons.”
Wilson scored in every game for the Crusaders, including netting four times in the NCS championship game at Upper Lake.
The senior standout was a dynamic team leader all season for the Little 3 champs and walks away as a two-time NCS winner, having also played a big role for the 2019 section championship Crusaders team.
“She was consistently able to create goalscoring opportunities, many of which resulted in a goal,” St. Bernard’s head coach Danny Roscoe said.
Wilson was one of five St. Bernard’s players to be named to the all-league first team, a list that also included Ema Brenes, Alondra Adkins, Bella Maki and Laila Florvilus, each of whom played consistently well on the way to the section title.
For Ferndale, Malela Fulton was also named first-team all-league after playing a big part in her team’s success, as were South Fork striker Summer Contreras and goalie Lyndsee Brewer, who led the way for the Cubs at opposite ends of the field.
The Fortuna boys, meanwhile, had four all-league selections in addition to Garcia.
Antonio Garcinuno, Edgar Herrera, Braiden Barsanti and Adrian Olea all were included after big seasons on the way to the Big 5 title.
In addition to Gyenis, Arcata’s Josiah Gomez and Isaac Johnson each also were named all-league, along with Eureka’s Vic Vang and Tomas Paoli, Del Norte’s Edwin Zepeda and Gin Vue and McKinleyville’s Rocco Previde.
The Big 5 girls all-league team also included five selections from the Tigers’ championship team.
In addition to Welsh, sisters Tildy and Annie Macdonald each were included, along with defender Quin Rush-Copple and striker Kyla Berman.
For Eureka, goalie Claire Maples was included, as was Maia Hales, who was arguably the top defender on the North Coast this season.
McKinleyville’s Soffia Reyes also is an all-league selection after a phenomenal season, along with ever-consistent teammate Kathryn Tinney.
Fortuna’s Kelsie Hall and Malia Bolden each also were included on the all-league first team, as was Del Norte’s Alyssa McCovey.
For the two Little 4 boys teams, Ryder York was named all-league for South Fork and Samuel Matysek was named all-league for St. Bernard’s.
Big 5 Boys
Arcata — Izaiah Grosveld
Del Norte — Chase Gardner
Eureka — Ean Savage, Ty Bauer, David Parra, Luis Romero and Trenton Gerber
Fortuna — Aristeo Herrera Martinez, RJ Rexford, Angel Diaz, Lane Shelton and Logan Calvert
McKinleyville — Rylee Collart and Logan Maher
Big 5 Girls
Arcata — Alia Prentiss, Zoe Macknicki, Rogue Russell, Soquel Macdonald, Gracie Townsend and Sionna Khattab
Del Norte — Mary Kate Wong, Jasmine Palmerin and Anyessa Bettega
Eureka — Angelina Conant, Jordan Brown, Kira Morris, Paige Rodgers, Ella Tollefson, Payton Goodman, Kaitlin Giacone and Saedra Joseph
Fortuna — Taylor Brooks, Brylee Barsanti and Raigan Brooks
McKinleyville — Thea Trout, Bria Ferreira, Caitlyn Canepa and Taya Gomes
Little 3 Girls
Ferndale — Gabby Riley and Regan Russ
South Fork — Macy Yarbrough and Olivia Perkins
St. Bernard’s — Sarah McBreyer, Hannah Finck, Olivia Eads and Sienna Bullock-Martinez
Little 4 Boys
South Fork — Kobe Gellman
St. Bernard’s — Sam Zhong, Garrett Sobol and Lorren Casucci