By Ray Hamill — All four Big 4 teams won their games against Little 4 opponents in girls soccer on Tuesday evening.
The closest matchup was at Arcata where the host Tigers edged St. Bernard’s 3-2.
Elsewhere, Big 4 favorite Eureka won big against South Fork, while Fortuna defeated Ferndale 5-0 and McKinleyville beat Del Norte 4-1.
Zalayshia Velasquez and Soquel Macdonald each had an assist for the home team, while goalkeeper Kyndle Eisner made seven saves to keep the visitors at bay for much of the afternoon.
After the Tigers opened the scoring, St. Bernard’s Alyssa Boham netted an equalizer off a cross from Madelyn Shanahan.
Hannah Finck also scored for the Crusaders from the penalty spot in the second half.
“It was a really competitive great game,” SB head coach Brian Finck said. “They had their opportunities, we had ours.”
“We are coming together nicely as a team,” Brian Finck said.
The Big 4 and Little 4 teams will continue to play each other through next week before three rounds of league play begins for both conferences.
Next up, on Thursday, Arcata plays at Del Norte and St. Bernard’s hosts McKinleyville.
Loggers win big in season opener
As expected, the defending Big 4 champions comfortably defeated a young South Fork team at Albee Stadium in the Loggers’ season opener.
And it was the experienced Eureka players who set the tone.
Lorena Hernandes hit the ground running and scored four goals in the win, while teammate Lila Ekholdt netted a hat trick and Angelina Connant scored twice.
“We did some things really well and we’ve got some things to work on,” Learmouth said. “And that will come with time.”
The experienced Loggers feature eight seniors and they look ready for another good season.
“My seniors were absolutely outstanding tonight, all of them,” Learmouth said. “They were being supportive and working with their teammates, helping each other out and setting the younger ladies up for success.”
Next up, on Thursday, Eureka plays at Ferndale and South Fork hosts Fortuna.
Fortuna 5, Ferndale 0
Chloe Cox scored a hat trick as the Huskies continued their impressive start to the new season with their sixth win in six games.
Raigan Brooks added a pair of goals for the Fortuna girls, who will be hoping to challenge Eureka and Arcata for the league title this fall.
Having not played a game in two weeks, it took the Huskies a little while to get going, but once they did they pulled out a comfortable victory.
“I felt like in the beginning we kind of played to Ferndale’s level, but in the second half we adjusted and picked dup the intensity,” said new head coach Arnulfo Aguirre, who was an assistant coach with the team last year.
Junior Jorlyn Villalvazo was outstanding in defense and helped set the tone for her team from the back, while midfielders Allie Cox, Rowan Angeli and Brylee Barsanti each also were instrumental in the win.
And the new head coach is happy with the progress his players have made so far this season.
“It’s good group,” he said. “I feel like from last year we’ve learned a lot.”
The majority of the Fortuna players play travel soccer for the Eel River Rapids and that’s paying dividends for a program that won its first ever league title in 2019 and should challenge again in 2023.
Next up, on Thursday, the Huskies play at South Fork and Ferndale hosts Eureka.
McKinleyville 4, Del Norte 1
The Panthers are building momentum ahead of league play and won their third straight game on Tuesday after dropping their first two games of the season.
“They played very physical and kind of maxed the intensity,” new McKinleyville head coach Brady Burtchett said of his players. “We had good energy and good effort. We left a lot of goals out there but I think we’re coming into our own.”
Sweeper Lacie Rink helped set the tone on the back line and “commanded the defense,” according to her coach, while senior midfielder Elizabeth Mengel “controlled the center field” and looks set for another big season with the team.
“They want to learn and they’re willing to put the effort in.”
Both of Watson’s goals came from set pieces, one of which she scored directly from a corner kick and the other from a free kick.
Senior Leah Circe and sophomore Grace Pimentel each also scored for the 3-2 Panthers.
Lily Schaad netted Del Norte’s only goal of the game, off a cross from teammate Alexis Aguirre early in the second half.
It was the Warriors’ first game of the season.
“Overall I think we played competitive,” head coach Cyndi Hansen said. “The girls stayed in formation and upbeat to the end.”
Team captains Channey Schaad and Aurora Mitchell both looked impressive in the season opener while anchoring the team defense and keeping their teammates positive and focused.
Freshman goalkeeper Avery Ritter also had a good game between the posts, turning in an impressive high school debut.
Interestingly, there are four “Lilys” on the team and all impressed their coach in the opener.
In addition to forward Lily Schaad, who created some breakaway opportunities up front, Lily Sherman, Lilly Ramirez Lillie Franklin all played well in defense and midfield.
Next up, on Thursday, McKinleyville plays at St. Bernard’s and Del Norte hosts Arcata.