The Del Norte girls soccer team struggled to find its rhythm early on Saturday in McKinleyville, and the Panthers were able to score three early first-half goals to take control of the game and held on for a 4-1 victory over the Warriors.
McKinleyville grabbed the upper hand early in the game with a goal in the 11th minute. The Panthers quickly upped their advantage to 3-0 with back-to-back insurance goals in the 22nd and 23rd minutes of the game.
“Our first half wasn’t great,” said Del Norte head coach Renee Rayls. “We started out kind of confused after we moved the girls around to some places that they weren’t comfortable and changing our formation a little bit. We just really struggled with speed — keeping up with the other team — and keeping our formations more solid.”
Although outplayed in the first half, the Warriors were able to threaten the Panthers’ goal several times in the first 40 minutes with three shots on goal.
“We took some pretty good and hard shots on them, but we just weren’t able to get one in,” Rayls said.
Del Norte sophomore goalkeeper Breaunna Johnson had a solid first half with six saves to keep the score at 3-0.
In the second half, Rayls said Del Norte was finally able to settle into the game. McKinleyville pushed its lead to 4-0 with a goal in the 50th minute, but the Warriors were finally able to find the net in the 60th minute on a shot by Laura Ochoa, assisted by Brenda Paredes.
“We had four other shots on goal on them in the second half,” Rayls said. “We had a lot of opportunities. If we could have played the first half like we played the second half it probably would have been a tight game, but we were a little messy in the first half and we kind of had to regroup at halftime.”
In addition to a more aggressive demeanor in the second half, Rayls said her squad was in better position after halftime.
“We just played our positions better,” Rayls said. “In the first half they were trying to cover too much area. I think they had good intentions with that, but if you are a wing and you try to play in the middle that leaves the outside of the field a little week. We talked about that at halftime and they played their positions a lot better in the second half.”
The Del Norte girls will be back in action on Wednesday in their first home game of the season. The Warriors will kick off against Ferndale at about 5:30 p.m., following the boys game scheduled to kick off at 3:30 p.m.