Although the final score shows Arcata was able to come out of Crescent City with a 5-1 win over Del Norte, the loss indicates significant improvement for the Warrior girls soccer team.
“Everything looked great as far as our formation,” Del Norte head coach Ashley Herrera said. “I ran a new formation with the girls that we gave to them a week in advance and they executed it really well. The spaced themselves well and they just wanted it more — they were hungrier. Their defense was really good.
“Even though we had a few injuries on the field we had substitutes go in and handled their positions well.”
Del Norte has struggled mightily against an Arcata program that is perennially one of the best in the Humboldt-Del Norte League. The Tigers had won five league championships in a row before finishing second to Eureka last season. Maxpreps.com has all the team’s scores dating back to 2007, and since that season Del Norte has never beaten Arcata, while Wednesday’s goal was the first time they have scored against the Tigers since at least the ’07 season.
“That was one of the small goals that we had for ourselves and we made it in the first game,” Herrera said. “All they wanted to do was score against Arcata and we did it in the first game, so they were pretty excited about that.”
While the Tigers ended the game with a four-goal lead, Del Norte kept the game close for most of the contest.
Arcata scored a first half goal to take a 1-0 lead, but a little twist on the Warriors’ normal formation from last year proved effective and kept Del Norte close through the first half.
Del Norte employed a similar 4-4-2 formation that it used last year, but rather than playing with a straight midfield line the Warriors played in a diamond formation with a defensive midfielder and an attacking midfielder.
“That kind of shut down the forwards and midfielders that were coming down from Arcata. I knew that they were going to attack and shoot from far out, so playing with a diamond helped us cover that,” Herrera said. “It worked really well, and the girls liked their positions.”
Herrera said Del Norte has been working on a few different formations for the season, but Warrior fans will likely see more of the diamond midfield moving forward.
“We have a couple formations that we are going to work with, but against Arcata that worked really well, so we will probably use that one again,” she said.
Arcata added an insurance goal early in the second half to take a 2-0 lead, but Del Norte managed to pull back within striking distance.
Johanna Cajita assisted Lanaeya Botelho on a long shot that beat the goal keeper — one of 15 shots on goal for Del Norte in the second half — for the Warriors first goal against the Tigers in over a decade.
After Botelho cut Arcata’s lead in half, the Tigers responded with three goals for a comfortable final margin.
“We have a couple new freshmen on the team, so communication I think is one thing that we need to work on for next game,” Herrera said. “But as far as ball movement I couldn’t have asked for a better game — especially against Arcata.”
Although the Warriors still have some room to improve, Herrera said she was certainly encouraged by the team’s first effort of the season.
“We can play at a higher level as long as they believe in themselves,” she said. “They train hard, they work hard, and they want it. They have put in the work and all that it takes is the ambition and the drive.”
Del Norte will be back in action today, looking for their first win of the season when McKinleyville comes to Crescent City for an 11 a.m. kickoff. The Panthers got off to a 3-1 start to the season prior to Wednesday’s game against St. Bernard’s — that score was not available by press time Friday.