The most exciting H-DNL boys soccer championship race in years took another turn on Wednesday to set up a fascinating conclusion to the regular season.
A 2-0 victory for Eureka over Fortuna at Albee Stadium leaves both schools tied atop the standings with 14 points apiece and two games remaining each.
But a 12-0 win for Del Norte over St. Bernard’s in Crescent City leaves the Warriors just one point behind the top two, and with three games remaining the Del Norte boys can claim the title if they win out no matter what happens elsewhere.
Also in action on Wednesday, McKinleyville defeated South Fork 4-0 to leave the Panthers just one win below .500.
A wonderful header from in-form junior Will Mooney gave Eureka an early lead on Wednesday, before senior Tomas Paoli volleyed home a second goal to secure the points and send the Loggers to the top of the standings.
“Our team played with determination,” senior co-captain Joe Morris said. “Our eyes set on the league title, we came out and dominated the first half and finished strong closing out the second.”
In their second-to-last regular-season home game, several seniors stepped up for Eureka, including Eli Ladika, Noah Wagar, Kaleb Green and goalkeeper Baden Shinke, who kept the all-important clean sheet.
“Shinke played a great game in goal making numerous saves,” Paoli said of the reliable net minder.
“Defensively, we limited their opportunities and played a full 80 minutes,” Paoli added.
Freshmen Luiz Garcia and Kayan Green also played well and stepped up to the challenge in a pressure-soaked situation.
Check out both Eureka goals from Wednesday night’s game above …
The loss ended a six-game unbeaten run in league for the Huskies and stretched the Loggers’ unbeaten run to five straight games.
Up in Crescent City, meanwhile, the Warriors kept the pressure on the league leaders with a comfortable shutout victory.
Head coach David Sanyaolu praised his players for a “good passing and control game.”
According to the coach, the Warriors also made a point of expressing their gratitude to the officials on Referee Appreciation Day
“We thanked the referees for what they do to keep our sport going,” Sanyaolu said.
At McKinleyville, meanwhile, the Panthers ended a three-game losing streak with a shutout win over the Cubs and improved to 4-5 in league play.
Flynn Creighton, who has been one of the most dangerous strikers in league this fall, scored two of his team’s goals in the victory, with August Gonzalez and Andy Garcia each also scoring.
“It was some of the best combinations of passes we had all year,” head coach Ryne Deppe said. “This was a better showing overall than our previous game against a South Fork team I have high respect for.”
Remaining games for the four contenders …
Fortuna — St. Bernard’s (home) and South Fork (away).
Eureka — South Fork (away) and Del Norte (home).
Del Norte — Arcata (away), McKinleyville (home) and Eureka (away).
Arcata — Del Norte (home), South Fork (home) and McKinleyville (away).