By Ray Hamill — Sequoia FC returned to competitive action for the first time in three years last weekend, with two teams from the local soccer club competing at the three-day Medford Memorial tournament.
Boys and girls high-school aged teams traveled to play, with the Sequoia girls winning the championship game in their bracket and a new boys team gaining some valuable experience.
The girls closed out tournament play with three wins in four games and they won their championship game 3-1 against a team that had defeated them earlier in the weekend.
“It was one of our best games,” coach Taylor McMillin said of the girls’ championship performance. “The girls fought. It’s not easy to play four games in one weekend. They haven’t played a game in a long time, so it was great to see them out there again.”
Both the Sequoia boys and girls teams feature all-star rosters made up of players from a number of H-DNL schools, most notably Eureka, Arcata and McKinleyville, and the Sequoia girls have been practicing together for a few years.
And that showed in Medford.
“I really like just the diversity in the way they play,” said McMillin, who is a Eureka High graduate that played at Humboldt State (now Cal Poly Humboldt). “The girls are all from different high schools and skills levels, but when it comes to games they play as a team, and they’re really easy to coach.”
The boys team, meanwhile, features a young roster and the players have only been training together for a few months.
“We’re a young team, but it was nice to see them compete,” head coach Eddie Garcia said. “It was definitely a good experience for them. Some of them were playing against players four or five years older, and for them to be able to compete was good to see.”
The new boys team is part of an expansion push for the club, which also features 14U boys and girls teams, as well as a grassroots program for ages 5-10, and has plans on adding 12/13U teams.
(Tryouts for the 14Us will be held on June 11 at the Arcata Sports Complex from 10 a.m. to noon.)
The high school girls team traveled to Medford with 16 players and the performance was particularly impressive considering the team played without Eureka High standouts Lila Ekholdt, Maia Hales and Ella Tollefson, each of whom had Olympic Development Program commitments that weekend.
Several other H-DNL players stepped up in their absence, including McKinleyville’s Soffia Reyes, who scored a pair of goals in the opening game.
Eureka’s Saedra Joseph and Grace Nelson and Arcata’s Alia Prentiss each also scored over the weekend, showcasing the teams’s depth in attacking options.
McKinleyville’s Caitlyn Canepa also impressed while playing every minute in goal, while Arcata’s Kyla Berman “really controlled the midfield for us,” according to McMillin.
Arcata’s Quinlyn Rush-Copple also had a good weekend anchoring the defense in front of Canepa.
Several of the Sequoia boys impressed as well, including Eureka’s Aidan Sloper in goal and Tomas Paoli in midfield, along with Arcata’s Mathias Severn and the Mack duo of Dorian Rine and Rylee Collart.
“Every single one of our games was close,” Garcia said. “It was just really nice to see these kids from different schools come together and play. We’ve only had a full squad at practice for two weeks.”
The more established girls team will travel for a college showcase tournament in Davis in July and McMillin says she is hoping to see the team join a NorCal league in the future, which would give them a couple of home games.
“I’m looking forward to the future of the club,” she said. “The older girls have been really good role models for the younger players.”
Garcia, who is also the Eureka High boys coach, oversees both teams with Juan Flores, and is also hoping for more competition this summer and to keep the squad going all year round in order to help these players develop both individually and for their respective high school teams.
“We are hoping to go to a couple of tournaments before the high school season starts,” he said. “We want to keep these players growing together.”
The boys team will travel for at least one tournament in July.
McMillin coaches the girls team along with Eureka High coach Tommy Learmouth, while Isaiah Dairo coaches the middle school boys team and Mario Garcia and Francisco Medina coach the middle school girls.
Categories: Arcata, Eureka, McKinleyville, Sequoia FC, Soccer
Club Soccer is slightly better than school teams with their obnoxious education politics…