By Ray Hamill — The two Big 4 favorites got their league campaign off to a winning start in girls soccer on Tuesday night, setting up an enthralling showdown this weekend.
Eureka overcame a sluggish first half on the way to defeating McKinleyville 4-0 at Albee Stadium, while Fortuna got the better of Arcata 2-0 at Husky Field.
Both teams improved to 1-0 in league play while remaining perfect on the season and they will face off in a key game at Albee Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Grace Nelson continued her impressive start to the season with a pair of goals, with teammates Lila Ekholdt and Angelina Conant each also netting once.
The industrious and ever-dangerous Ekholdt also assisted on a pair of goals, with Emily Pesch and Maia Hales each also getting an assist.
But it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Loggers, who improved to 5-0 overall.
“I’m going to be honest, I didn’t think we played very well in the first half,” Eureka head coach Tommy Learmouth said. “It just felt off. I didn’t feel we had our normal energy.
Ekholdt and Conant continued to command the middle of the field in the absence of Tollefson, who is one of the team’s chief playmakers, while defender Paige Rodgers moved into a holding midfield role and excelled at the new position.
Pesch, Marin Matteoli and Olivianna Millender each also played well, with the latter “absolutely phenomenal” at outside back, according to her coach.
The Huskies, meanwhile, improved to 10-0 with the league-opening win.
And once again, it was a total team effort, according to head coach Arnulfo Aguirre.
Allie Cox and Raigan Brooks both scored in the win.
For Arcata, goalkeeper Kyndle Eisner continued to grow in stature with a big performance that kept her team in touch, while Sionna Khattab and Maile Russell both also played well in the loss.
The defeat was the first of the season for the Tigers, who are now 3-1 overall.
Saturday’s big showdown, which has been pushed back from Thursday because of Fortuna homecoming festivities, is set for 1:30 p.m. at Albee Stadium and will be the first of three league meetings between the two schools this fall.