By Ray Hamill — The Eureka Loggers are gearing up to defend the league and North Coast Section championships they won in girls soccer in 2022, and they appear to have the talent and experience to do so.
A deep senior class of eight players, coupled with some outstanding juniors who are taking on bigger roles this fall, gives head coach Tommy Learmouth a solid base to build on.
The question, however, is whether the Loggers can put it together on the field of play this fall and continue to get the better of their rivals.
The coach wants to ensure his seniors, in particular, “enjoy the moment” in their final campaign together before some of them take their talents to the collegiate fields.
And what a senior class it is.
The dynamic trio of Ella Tollefson, Maia Hales and Lila Ekholdt, who are the team’s three cdpftains this fall, have dominated in the H-DNL for the past few seasons and should be even better as seniors.
“We look to them to provide a lot of leadership,” Learmouth said of his captains.
The entire senior class, which also includes Kaitlin Giacone, Emily Pesch, Grace Nelson Marin Matteoli and Lily Wilkinson, has been setting the tone for their younger teammates since preseason practice began earlier this month.
“Our seniors, I think, have really come in this year and they’re humble, they work hard and have a great attitude,” the head coach said. “And that has really spread through our team.”
Wilkinson is back with the team after taking last season off to focus on other things and will take over in goal from the graduated Claire Maples.
Juniors Paige Rodgers, Angelina Conant and Lorena Hernandes, who established themselves as key contributors last year, also are back and appear ready to take on even bigger roles in 2023.
Learmouth says he is still playing around with the starting lineup and is trying different players at different positions to see what works.
As of right now, the Loggers’ season opener is their league opener, which is set for Sept. 12 at home against South Fork, although Learmouth is hoping to add a pre-league game next week.
“We’re looking forward to challenging for the league title and see if we can make another deep playoff run,” the coach said.