The race for this year’s championship in H-DNL boys soccer is shaping up to be one of the most competitive in recent times.
On Wednesday, the Fortuna Huskies returned to winning ways one week after losing to McKinleyville with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Eureka.
Also on Wednesday, the McKinleyville Panthers won their third straight game, defeating South Fork 8-0, while Del Norte shut out St. Bernard’s 8-0.
Fortuna head coach Daniel Holmes described it as a game of two halves, with the home team getting the better of exchanges in the opening half and the visitors stepping up after the interval and pushing the Huskies all the way to the final whistle.
“We played well in the first half, held possession and created chances,” Holmes said. “In the second half, we lost our team shape and Eureka took us out of what we were doing in the first half.”
All three goals were scored before halftime, with Noah Wagar giving the Loggers an early lead.
Jesus Herrera and Hector Diaz both played well for Fortuna and were key in keeping the Eureka attack at bay late in the game.
“In the first half we were very sloppy with the ball, giving it away too easily and not playing with any composure,” Eureka head coach Eddie Garcia said. “We were second to every ball, preferring to shy away from challenges.
“Fortuna was the better team in the first half and deservedly went to halftime with the lead.”
The Eureka players, however, responded to the challenge and lifted their game after the break.
“We were able to meet Fortuna’s intensity and it became a more even game with both teams creating chances,” the Eureka coach added.
The Loggers had the better of the late exchanges and pinned the Huskies back as they went in search of an equalizing goal, creating some good opportunities.
“It was definitely a fun game to watch,” Garcia said. “I expect it’ll be another battle when we play them at home in a few weeks.”
Baeden Schinke had a good game between the posts for Eureka to help keep his team in the game.
Eli Ladika also had “an excellent game” at right back, according to his coach.
The win lifts the Huskies to 3-1 in league, while the Loggers suffered their first league loss and dropped to 2-1-1.
The Panthers, meanwhile, are the hottest team in the H-DNL right now after winning a third straight league game to go to 3-2.
After dropping their opening two league games to Eureka and Del Norte — both by just one goal — the Panthers have now beaten Fortuna, St. Bernard’s and South Fork in the past eight days.
Next up, on Saturday, McKinleyville will face a tough challenge at Arcata, while Eureka will try to get back on track with an always tricky road trip to Del Norte, and the Huskies will try to keep rolling at home against South Fork.
St. Bernard’s has a weekend bye.