Loggers secure Big 4 title on emotional night at Albee

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As expected the Eureka Loggers secured this year’s league championship outright in Big 4 girls soccer on Thursday with a 4-0 win over the Fortuna Huskies at Albee Stadium.

The win lifts the Eureka girls to 7-0-1 in league play and 11-0-1 overall with one league remaining.

It was also an emotional night for the Loggers, who honored a stellar senior class of eight players before kickoff.

“We have a few good seniors every year, but this group came in and set a new tone, a new level and new expectations of what it means to play for Eureka soccer,” head coach Tommy Learmouth said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to watch them grow together.”

The class of Lila Ekholdt, Ella Tollefson, Maia Hales, Grace Nelson, Emily Pesch, Marin Matteoli, Lily Williamson and Kaitlin Giacone all enjoyed tremendous success with the team, including winning back-to-back North Coast Section titles the past two years.

“It was a tough night to play with it being senior night, and I thought we handled it well,” Learmouth said. 

Three of the seniors were involved in the goals, as Eureka opened up a three-goal lead before halftime.

Ekholdt scored twice in the win with Hales and Nelson each assisting on a goal.

Lorena Hernandes also netted twice in the win.

Giacone, who suffered a knee injury at the end of basketball season earlier in 2023 and sat out much of the soccer season, returned to the lineup and played the final 20 minutes in goal for the home team. 

The Loggers will now turn their attention to this year’s NCS tournament, where they are expected to earn the top seed when the brackets are announced a week from Sunday.

Several Fortuna seniors also played well for the visitors as they look to close out their high school careers on a high.

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“In the opening half we encountered a few challenges with defensive coverage that led to early goals, but the team did not give up,” Fortuna head coach Arnulfo Aguirre said. “It took us some time to find our rhythm, but as the match progressed we displayed a more composed and controlled style of play.”

In the second half, the Huskies played with “heightened intensity,” according to the coach, and put more pressure on the Eureka goal while also limiting the home team’s attacks.

Arnulfo also praised the play of the Eureka defense.

“They managed to limit our opportunities, ultimately proving to be the decisive factor,” he said. 

Fortuna seniors Allie Cox, Azucena Aguirre, Taylor Brooks, Chloe Cox, Jocelyn Ortega-Miranda, Alondra Ramirez and Brylee Barsanti left everything they had on the field, according to their coach.

“We extend our congratulations to Eureka on their well-deserved victory and clinching the league title,” the Fortuna coach added.

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