Three of four scheduled matchups took place on Thursday evening, as the round of games between the Big 4 and Little 4 teams concluded.
As expected, both Eureka and Fortuna closed out undefeated runs against the smaller schools, with the Loggers beating Del Norte 11-0 at Eureka and the Huskies getting the better of St. Bernard’s 5-3 at Fortuna.
Also in action on Thursday, McKinleyville and Ferndale tied 0-0 in the Cream City.
At Albee Stadium, the Loggers continued to impress as they get set to defend their Big 4 league championship.
The in-form Grace Nelson had another big day in attack and netted twice in the win, as did teammates Lila Ekholdt, Lorena Hernandes and Ella Tollefson.
The latter has proven to be one of the best playmakers win league since breaking into the Eureka team as a freshman, and that continues to be the case for the senior who also assisted on four of her team’s goals.
The consistent Emily Pesch also scored in the win, with Angelina Conant and Maia Hales rounding out the scoring.
Hales, Ekholdt and Hernandes each also had an assist.
“We scored three goals in the first 10 minutes and I feel like we got kind of complacent at that point,” head coach Tommy Learmouth said. “We stopped doing the things that made us successful in our first three games.
“And so we challenged them as coaches at halftime and we played a much better second half.”
Once again the midfield trio of Ekholdt, Conant and Tollefson set the tone throughout, while Hales continues to be a rock at the back and Hernandes continues to cause opposing defenses problems with her quick feet and eye for goal.
And the team chemistry is building ahead of league play.
“I love how supportive this team is of everybody,” Learmouth said.
A young Del Norte team, meanwhile, looked composed at times at the back against a senior heavy and far more experienced Eureka team.
The Warriors will be more competitive when league play kicks off next week, as they get set to face three rounds of games against South Fork, Ferndale and St. Bernard’s.
They open the L4 at home against Ferndale on Tuesday.
The Loggers also kick off the Big 5 on Tuesday when they host McKinleyville.
Thursday’s big showdown between league favorites Eureka and Fortuna at Albee Stadium has been pushed back to Saturday.
Fortuna 5, St. Bernard’s 3
The Huskies stormed out to a five-goal lead before the Crusaders rallied with three unanswered goals.
Alli Cox and Taylor Brooks each scored twice for the Huskies, who have won all nine of their pre-league games, which teammate Chloe Cox also scoring.
Arabella Maki scored for St. Bernard’s late in the first half, with Maddy Shanahan adding a second on “pure determination,” according to head coach Brian Finck.
Freshman Malia Masayos also netted for the SB girls for the first time in her high school career.
With a big lead, Fortuna head coach Arnulfo Aguirre went deep to his bench for the final quarter of the game and felt it was a good learning experience for the younger players.
“I played the younger players with around 20 minutes left and that’s where the mistakes came from,” he said. “But that’s normal as they are still learning and gaining experience.”
Overall, the Fortuna coach a pleased with another good team effort.
“I felt that we were playing good, making good connection with each other, but our passing and touch could have been more crisp,” he said.
For St. Bernard’s, meanwhile, some of the second-half substitutions gave the team a boost of energy.
“In the first half, our defense broke down,” Finck said. “We made some adjustments to our formation and scored a couple of goals in the second half.
“We also made substitutions during the second half that elevated our play. Our team played at a different level once the lights came on in the second half.”
Young goalkeeper Emma Mowery played well between the posts for the home team as she continues to gain experience.
“Our young goalkeeper has made some great strides and keeps getting better and better,” the coach added.
The Huskies kick off the Big 5 at home to Arcata on Tuesday, while the Crusaders open the Little 4 against South Fork, also on Tuesday.
Ferndale 0, McKinleyville 0
The Panthers outshot the Wildcats in Ferndale on Thursday afternoon, but neither team was able to break the deadlock.
“Our defense played great,” said McKinleyville head coach Brady Burtchett, whose team out-shot the Cats around 22-5. “We just couldn’t find the back of the net. It was a frustrating game.”
The Mack coach also praised the play of the Ferndale defense and keeper, and added “for us, it was a team effort.”
Gabby Watson and Lacie Rink both played well for the Panthers in defense.
Both teams will now turn their attention toward league play.
The Panthers kick off the Big 4 at Eureka on Tuesday, while the Cats kick off the L4 at Del Norte, also on Tuesday.