The Del Norte boys soccer team had a stiff wind in its face for the first 40 minutes on Saturday against McKinleyville. The Panthers took advantage with a pair of goals and managed to hold on in the second half for a 2-1 victory in Crescent City.

“Things just didn’t go our way,” said Del Norte head coach David Sanyaolu. “The wind didn’t allow us to really work on our plays, so it was just a bad game all in all.”

A strong wind from the south dictacted the game all afternoon in Crescent City, as both teams were able to hold possession in their opponent’s territory for long stretches with the wind at its back.

“We were unlucky to start against the wind. Our passes couldn’t even reach the half,” Sanyaolu said. “They got two goals and then defended. Even though we pulled one back in the second half, it was just too late. I think my boys got a little carried away, and they were just not calm.

“Some of them are very hotheaded and always want to lash out and protest. When you play with such negative emotion you don’t have the time to plan.”

With the wind at its back for the first 40 minutes, McKinleyville took a 1-0 lead after 13 minutes of play. A long pass from the Panthers’ side of the field carried past the Warriors defense and a McKinleyville forward was able to tap it around a charging Warrior goalkeeper to take an early 1-0 lead.

McKinleyville doubled its lead in the 27th minute on a corner kick with a high cross that appeared to be headed about 10 yards out from goal, but the wind curled the ball back towards goal and a McKinleyville forward was able to get a head on it near the back post for a 2-0 lead.

Del Norte had the wind at its back in the second half, but the Panthers were careful to keep extra defenders back with a two-goal lead throughout the final 40 minutes.

The Warriors had several scoring opportunities in the second half, and finally got a goal in the 72nd minute to cut the Panthers’ lead in half.

Del Norte sent a high cross pass into the box on a corner kick that bounced between a McKinleyville defender and the Panthers’ keeper, about six yards outside of the goal. The ball took a high bounce and forward Aaron Mignon came flying on the back side and headed the ball high into the net before the goalie could recover.

“I am glad that we got one goal back, because the 2-0 score really didn’t do justice to the game,” Sanyaolu said. “So it was nice to get a goal back in the second half.”

With the loss, Del Norte falls to 6-4 overall this season. The Warriors will be back in action on the road on Wednesday with their first matchup of the season against Humboldt-Del Norte League leading Fortuna.

The Huskies are off to a 14-0-2 overall start and sit at 9-0-1 overall after a 1-1 tie against Arcata on Oct. 4. Fortuna has found itself at or near the top of the HDN standings every year recently, and Sanyaolu said the Huskies program is what he is trying to emulate in Del Norte.

“They have the structure where year in and year out people come in and contribute,” he said. “That is what I want for Del Norte. That we have a template, so that anybody coming in will know how we play and we produce good players year in and year out. That is what I am trying to get us to.”

Fortuna has outscored its opponents 92-7 so far this season, and has allowed just two goals in HDN play. Sanyaolu said Del Norte will need its best effort and a little bit of good fortune in order to get a result on the road.

“The key for us is to utilize the changes that we have,” Sanyaolu said. “We will have to play with some caution against them. If we open up against them we are in for a long night. We need to play with caution, and any opportunity that we have we need to utilize.”

Reach Michael Zogg at mzogg@triplicate.com.

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