Loggers have experience and youth as they look to challenge for league title

File photo – The Eureka boys will open the McKinleyville tournament against their league rivals Arcata on Friday.

By Ray Hamill — After barely missing out on a league title in boys soccer in 2022, the Eureka Loggers are hoping to end a long championship drought this fall.

This year’s team is senior heavy and won’t lack experience, but the Loggers also have a big freshmen class that looks ready to make an immediate impact at the high school level, and that augurs well for the future of the program.

And overall, head coach Eddie Garcia believes it could be one of the most talented Eureka teams in a few years.

“I like their camaraderie,” Garcia said of his players. “They’re working really hard and pushing each other. Practice is fun. The games are fun. They’re willing to put in the work, and there’s talent on this team.

“It’s one of the best teams I’ve had the pleasure of coaching, so we’re really excited.”

Garcia has 10 seniors on his roster, including a core group of starters who have hit the ground running and are setting the tone for their younger teammates, some of whom have also hit the ground running and don’t appear intimidated at the varsity level.

“The seniors are being true leaders,” the coach said. “They’re helping out the young players, and some of the freshmen are ready to contribute.”

Team captains Joe Morris and Kaleb Green are back to anchor the defense, while fellow senior Eli Ladika is switching from midfield to defense and looks “very impressive” in his new role, according to Garcia.

Another senior team captain, Tomas Paoli, also is back from last year and will be expected to play a key role once again in both midfield and attack, while senior midfielder Noah Wager also will be a key presence in the middle of the field.

A pair of juniors — Trenton Gerber and team captain Will Mooney — have also impressed in midfield early in the season as they have picked just where they left off in 2022.

The Loggers, who open the McKinleyville tournament against Arcata on Friday at noon, are 1-3 so far, with their lone win coming against The Bay School by a score of 4-2.

File photo

Their three losses have come against Calistoga (3-1), Sonoma Academy (3-1) and defending North Coast Section champion Head-Royce (2-0), but Garcia feels his players performed well against some quality early-season opponents despite the results.  

“All of the coaches and myself, we’re all really impressed with their teamwork,” he said.

One of the most competitive position battles on the team is for the starting goalkeeper spot, with seniors Baeden Schinke and Sawyer Jackson both looking good and vying for playing time.

Two of the seven freshmen on the team — Luiz Gonzales and Kyan Green — are challenging for starting spots, while fellow freshmen Levi Grossman and Jerome Everta are both also likely to see some playing time.

Seniors Luke Hernandez, Carlos McFarland and Juan Servite, juniors Rocco Damonte and Luis Rodriguez, sophomores Rodrigo Patino, Angel Martinez and Sergio Calderon, and red-shirt freshmen Grayden Larson, Wiley Lopez and Chee Hue round out the roster.

As for this year’s league, Garcia is expecting a battle.

The Fortuna Huskies appear to be the consensus favorites, but Garcia is also expecting big things from Arcata and Del Norte.

“We hope we’re up to the challenge,” he said.

Categories: Eureka, Soccer

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