By Ray Hamill — Here we go again.
Little 4 rivals St. Bernard’s and Ferndale will face off for a fourth time this season on the biggest stage of all on Wednesday when they meet in the North Coast Section Division-3 girls soccer championship.
On Friday afternoon, both schools won their section semifinals.
As the higher seeds, the Crusaders will host the championship game at 2:30 p.m.
Also in action on Friday, the Arcata boys lost their NCS quarterfinal at No. 1 seed Head-Royce in Oakland, 2-0, to bow out of the playoffs and end their season.
At Crusader Field, sophomore winger Eliana Sellars is making a habit of scoring crucial goals for the St. Bernard’s girls and she did it again on Friday, netting on a back post volley 10 minutes into the second half for the only goal of the game.
Senior midfielder Madelyn Shanahan supplied the cross to set up the decisive goal.
The win was well deserved for the home team which dominated possession throughout and should have led before halftime.
The standout sophomore also scored the winning goal in a 2-0 win over Ferndale three weeks ago in a game that would eventually decide this year’s league title.
The other two games between the Cats and Crusaders this year both ended in a deadlock, and there likely will be little to separate the two schools when they face off a fourth time in Wednesday’s section decider.
While they had difficulty breaking down a well-organized Technology defense on Friday, the SB girls rarely looked in danger of losing.
Laila Florvilus was as composed as ever at sweeper and comfortably cleared the ball any time the visitors threatened.
Check out some second-half highlights from St. Bernard’s below …
Senior Hannah Finck was equally effective as a defensive midfielder, while Shanahan set up multiple attacks from midfield while driving forward time and again.
Sellars too had a good game out wide, as did Amber Smith on the opposite wing, with the latter dangerous in possession every time she touched the ball.
Senior Arabella Maki also had a good game leading the attack and kept the Technology defense under constant pressure, along with Alyssa Boham.
At Mendocino, meanwhile, the Wildcats battled back from a one-goal deficit, with Madison Gossi netting the equalizer off an assist from the ever-dangerous Regan Russ.
Reaghan Langer then scored the winner off an an assist from Teresa Catana.
“Our defense was solid,” said Ferndale head coach Bailey Davy, who described it as “fantastic game.”
Russ once again helped to anchor the defense with another composed performance, alongside Clara Christiansen and Michaela Ellsmore, each of whom also impressed on the back line.
In goal, Tinnley Pidgeon continued her outstanding season and made some huge saves, including a spectacular one-handed diving stop to keep the teams deadlocked in the opening half.
“She kept us in the game a couple of times,” Davy said of the standout sophomore.
Up front, meanwhile, Gossi and Jayden Murphy caused the home team a lot of problems.