The Del Norte girls soccer team gave McKinelyville all that it could handle on Saturday, but the Panthers were able to put a late corner kick into the Warriors’ net to escape Crescent City with a 3-2 victory.

“It was a good game. It was tied up late and the last five minutes it was moving fast,” said Del Norte head coach Renee Rayls. “We were thinking that we need to score, but they ended up getting a corner kick and were able to score in the last three minutes. It is unfortunate, but we scored two goals, which is about all that you can ask for in soccer. It is unfortunate, but the girls are getting better.”

Del Norte fell 4-1 when the two teams met in McKinleville on Sept. 9, and Rayls said her team showed just how much it has improved since the first game.

“We played a great game. Overall our passing is so much quicker and we are keeping our shape out there,” Rayls said. “The girls are coming off the field and telling me that they feel more comfortable and their passes are more accurate. Early in the year our passes would be about four feet from hitting their mark. Now our passes are about six inches from hitting their mark.”

Strong winds throughout the afternoon effected the game significantly. Del Norte had the wind at their back in the first half, but the Warriors were going into the wind after halftime.

“The wind definitely affected things,” Rayls said. “There were a couple times we tried to take a goal kick and we couldn’t because the ball was rolling off the field. It definitely comes into play because going with the wind is a lot easier than going against it.”

The Warriors took advantage of the wind right off the bat, as Samantha Alanis found Lanaeya Botelho in the Panthers’ box for a 1-0 lead in the third minute.

“She got a really nice pass up field from Sam and got a good shot of from about 10 or 15 yards out,” Rayls said.

McKinleyville was able to hold the Warriors scoreless for the rest of the first half, however, and managed to tie the score at 1-1 just two minutes before halftime. The Panthers also took advantage early in the second half with the wind at their backs to punch in another goal in the 48th minute to take a 2-1 lead.

McKinleyville’s first lead of the day was short lived, however, as the Warriors answered back just a minute later to tie the score at 2-2.

“Sam was coming up the field with the ball and crossed the ball to Bailey (Gonzalez),” Rayls said. “Bailey put a hard shot on goal and it ricochetted off the goalie, hit one of their defenders, and went in.”

The rest of the second half was a back-and-forth struggle for both teams. Despite playing into the wind, the Warriors still managed to get five shots on the Panthers’ goal after halftime and 12 shots on goal for the game.

McKinleyville only had three shots on goal in the first half, but took advantage of the wind in the second half for 16 more shots on goal.

“We had 12 shots, which is good, but they had almost twice that many,” Rayls said. “Breaunna Johnson did a great job to make all the goal saves that she had. She made 14 in the second half and two in the first half.”

With the loss, the Warriors slip to 2-6-1 overall this season. Del Norte will be back in action on Wednesday with a road trip to Fortuna. The girls game will kick off at about 7 p.m., following the conclusion of the boys game starting at 5 p.m.

Reach Michael Zogg at mzogg@triplicate.com.

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