By Ray Hamill — With their league championship hopes on the line, the Eureka Loggers found a way back.
Trailing by a goal with just three minutes remaining in a game against arch rival Arcata at Albee Stadium on Wednesday night, the Loggers scored a late equalizing goal to earn a 2-2 tie and remain in contention for an elusive league title.
Also in action on Wednesday night, the league-leading Fortuna Huskies stretched their unbeaten run in league play to five straight with a 2-0 win over McKinleyville in Fortuna.
At Albee Stadium, the opportunistic Will Mooney was well placed and first to react to a loose ball in the goal mouth, slotting home for the all-important late goal and sending his teammates in a wild celebration.
“It was a great game with lots of heart and grit,” Eureka co-captain Kaleb Green said.
It was an evenly-played game that was high on intensity — as all games between these two teams are — and when the dust had settled a draw was a fair result.
The Tigers, however, will feel this is one that got away from them after they opened up a two-goal lead in the first half.
As always, junior standout Izaiah Grosveld was very influential for the visitors.
He set up his team’s second goal just 10 minutes later, taking a short corner kick and winding his way past several Eureka defenders into the six-yard box, where his shot was blocked.
Teammate Jullian Gillespie, however, was perfectly placed to score from close range and give the Tigers all the momentum heading into the break.
Despite falling behind, the home team continued to battle hard and never lost belief.
The comeback began when Tomas Paoli netted from the penalty spot to narrow the gap on a shot Arcata keeper Tanner Kees almost stopped and was completed on Mooney’s late heroics.
Check out all four goals from Wednesday’s game at Albee Stadium below …
“Arcata came out strong and capitalized on their chances,” Green said. “Like always, Izaiah Grosveld was a problem that we struggled to contain.
The result keeps both teams in contention for the league pennant, although it was a disappointing one for the Tigers.
“It was a hard tie for us for sure,” Arcata head coach John Davidson said. “But setbacks and challenges make us stronger and smarter.”
The Tigers have the longest unbeaten run league play at six straight and have not lost since falling 3-2 at South Fork in their second league game.
Arcata is now 4-1-3, while Eureka is 4-2-2.
The Huskies, meanwhile, remain top of the standings with a record of 5-1-2 after Wednesday’s win.
The in-form Adrian Magana scored both of Fortuna’s goals in the shutout victory, with teammate Tanner Wallen providing a nice assist on the second.
Hector Diaz also had a good game in the win with some strong one-on-one defending.
The win avenged the Huskies’ only league loss this year, which came against the Panthers earlier in the campaign.
“Mack always plays us well,” Fortuna head coach Daniel Holmes. “They had a good match.”
League play continues on Saturday with a huge showdown between the Tigers and Huskies at Fortuna.
“We will re-focus and go to Fortuna as a unite group hungry for victory,” Davidson said.
Also on Saturday, Eureka hosts St. Bernard’s and Del Norte plays at South Fork.