The Del Norte girls soccer team came within inches of tying its senior recognition game against Fortuna on Saturday at the Del Norte soccer field in the first half. The Warriors were on the wrong side of a judgment call, however and went on to lose 1-0 after a scoreless second half.
"To me, this was awesome," said head coach Clar Byers. "We played Fortuna earlier this year and they jumped on top of us 3-0 in the first half and we ended up losing 4-0. This time we were battling back and fourth a little. We were actually threatening them."
Fortuna dominated control of the ball throughout the game, but the Del Norte defense was able to buckle down and keep the Huskies out of many dangerous goal-scoring opportunities.
"The defense put a lot of pressure on them and forcing them out," Byers said. "They kept running on the edges and trying to pass it back in. We had six corners in the first half and defended all of them. That is a lot of chances for a team to score. For our defense to just hold those corner kicks is great."
Fortuna eventually broke the scoreless tie when a ball crossed from the right side to the back post found a Husky who put it into the net midway through the first half.
That goal ended up being the only one that the Warriors conceded.
"(Sophomore) Maddie Cirtz is kind of that key defender that just streaks back and fourth across the field," Byers said. "Our outside wings slow it down and she comes in, cleans it out and pushes it up.
"(Junior) Karina (Moseley) was also on today. Her kicks were lifting and she was sending it clear from the backfield up to center field, which relieves that pressure and gives us time to regroup. Our defenders were all talking and finding opportunities to trap."
The Warriors also had a strong performance from senior goalkeeper Kira Standring.
"She had some fantastic saves today," Byers said. "There were some one-arm saves where she was just out there reaching. If she hadn't put a hand on it, it would have been a goal. She has been a key component for us this year."
With about 15 minutes left to play in the first half, Del Norte was able to put some pressure on the Fortuna goal.
After a scramble at the top of the box, the Warriors were able to put a high lob shot on target. The Fortuna keeper was easily able to reach the shot, but she fumbled the ball on the catch and it bounced behind her toward the goal.
The keeper dove backwards for the save and reached the ball right at the goal line. It was a call that could have gone either way by less than an inch.
"Coaches always question," Byers said. "We had a controversial goal, but that is the way soccer is. We don't have cameras. It is a human factor that referees help out on. I am a ref, so I understand."
At halftime of the game, Byers recognized each of the 10 senior girls on the team this year. Standring, Alicia Olson, Christina Levy, Cynthia Gil, Deleana Saylor, Guadalupe Gonzalez, Hailey Hulse, Kaylee Schiavone, Kristen Williams and Paige Pingree make up a big senior class that Byers will miss on the soccer field next fall.
"All of them, I am very happy to see, have plans to go on to college and are pursuing a degree of interest," Byers said. "It will be sad to see them go."
The seniors have one more league game before they are done, however. Del Norte will travel to Arcata on Wednesday for its final Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 game. The Warriors have also scheduled a girls-only match against Brookings at home for Thursday to get both teams one more chance to play.
Reach Michael Zogg at firstname.lastname@example.org.