By Ray Hamill — It was a busy night for the H-DNL in the North Coast Section soccer playoffs on Wednesday with six teams in action.
And it was a good night for most of them, with five of the six winning their opening round games and representing the league well.
In the boys Division-1 bracket, Arcata, Del Norte, Eureka and Fortuna all won their games, while in the girls Division-1 bracket the Arcata Tigers won their game at Middletown by a score of 5-0.
The Arcata boys won 4-2 at Lower Lake to set up a weekend quarterfinal at No. 1 seed Head-Royce.
The league champion Del Norte Warriors, who are seeded No. 4, won 3-0 at home against Gateway to set up a quarterfinal against No. 5 International.
No. 3 Fortuna comfortably beat Fort Bragg 7-1 at Husky Field and will play No. 6 Eureka in the quarterfinals after the Loggers took care of business at home to Middletown 2-1, giving them their first playoff victory since 2007.
Quinlyn Rush Copple scored two goals for the Arcata girls in their win, with teammates Soquel Macdonald, Gabriela Cavinta and Zalayshia Velasquez each also netting in the victory.
The win for the No. 5 Tigers sets up a semifinal showdown against No. 1 Eureka at Albee Stadium on Saturday night.
Sophomore Cruz Aguilar Miner scored a pair of goals for the Arcata boys, with Tex Larsen and Lars Gerdes each also finding the back of the net.
The Tigers trailed 1-0 at halftime but their offense came alive in the second half to put the game away.
Larsen, according to head coach John Davidson, had “by far the best game of his career.”
At Eureka, meanwhile, Trenton Gerber gave the Loggers a well-deserved 1-0 halftime lead when he was quickest to react to a loose ball in the six-yard box.
Check out the Eureka goals below …
Kyan Green also scored for the Loggers, who had the better of exchanges and could have won by more.
“We felt we dominated and the scoreline should have been bigger as we dominated possession for long stretches of time and created plenty of chances that just didn’t want to go in,” head coach Eddie Garcia said.
Goalkeeper Will Mooney had a big game between the posts and made several big saves, including a key stop late in the game with Middletown pushing for an equalizer.
Noah Wagar and Tomas Paoli helped set the tone with strong performances in the middle of the field and Gerber was influential all over the field.
“It was a great game by everyone,” Garcia added.
Jesus Herrera scored a hat trick for the Huskies, who will now play a doubleheader on Saturday night, with the boys team playing Eureka at 5 and the girls team playing either Credo or Upper Lake at 7.
The Del Norte boys, meanwhile, carried their impressive regular season form into the postseason and stretched their unbeaten run to 10 straight.
The Warriors defense has not given up a goal in more than 520 minutes of play.
Wednesday’s win was the program’s first-ever at home in the NCS playoffs, although the Warriors have previously won in the postseason on the road.
Deken Hanks scored his 15th goal of the season to give Del Norte a one-goal advantage at halftime, before Pedro Garcia and Eric Rodriguez added second-half goals to secure the win.
Lyon Rigden assisted on Hanks’ goal and Rodriguez scored off a corner kick by Brandt Pennington.
“Well done to my boys for another achievement,” head coach David Sanyaolu said of the historic home win, which continues a remarkable season for the H-DNL champs. “The game was one we were in control of, though Gateway put forth a good effort from start to finish.”
The most exciting game of the day took place at Mack High, with the visitors netting twice in the final 10 minutes to secure the come-from-behind win, including the winning goal less than two minutes from time.
Pedro Ramirez, Andy Garcia, Flynn Creighton and Rylee Collart all scored for the home team.
“So proud of the whole team for battling back while playing a man down that whole second half,” Panthers head coach Ryne Deppe said. “You have so many things not go your way and you keep fighting till the end.
“We left our hearts out on that field tonight.”
Most notably, Collart and Creighton had tremendous games.