The Del Norte girls soccer team had a rough start to its road game in McKinleyville on Saturday and ended up trailing 3-0 at halftime. The Warriors managed to clean up its defense and get some pressure on the Panther goal in the final 40 minutes, however, before ultimately falling 3-1.

“Obviously in the first half our defense was a little bit slow to pick up, but in the second half we came out flying,” said Del Norte head coach Ashley Herrera. “We played really strong defense, and we had good ball movement and passing. Our goal was to not let them score in the second half and they were able to accomplish that.”

Herrera said she gave her players a little bit of extra motivation to defend well during halftime.

“I told them to keep it out of the 18 in the second half — each time (the Panthers) got it into the 18-yard box they would have to run a lap,” Herrera said. “So that was kind of an incentive to push them and motivate them. They really worked as a team in the second half.”

Herrera said the Warriors responded to the challenge with some of their best communication of the season.

“They were loud. I could hear girls from all the way across the field,” she said.

In the end, Del Norte managed to keep the Panthers away from its goal for most of the second half and only ended up having to run five laps.

“That isn’t too bad. Going from three goals in the first half to just five times in the box and no goals is a big improvement,” Herrera said.

With improved defense and possession in the second half, the Warriors were also able to create a few more scoring opportunities for themselves.

Del Norte finally broke through when their top goal scorer, Lanaeya Botelho, received a pass from Kirsten Brous and fired it into the net to cut the Panthers’ lead back to two goals.

“I was just happy to see what the defense was able to do,” Herrera said. “We still have four games left in the regular season, so we just want to try to focus on picking up some wins and not getting scored on.”

With the loss, Del Norte falls to 2-7 overall this year. The Warriors are scheduled to be back in action on Wednesday, hosting Fortuna in the first game between the two teams yet this season.

The Huskies are currently off to a 7-2-1 start in Humboldt-Del Norte League Play, and sit at 8-3-1 overall this season.

“They are definitely a quicker team and very aggressive,” Herrera said.

Del Norte’s game on Wednesday is also the last home game of the regular season for the Warriors. Both the boys and girls soccer teams are planning on recognizing the seniors on their rosters as part of the Senior Night festivities.

Reach Michael Zogg at mzogg@triplicate.com .

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