High School Boys’ and Girls’ Soccer Qualify for Post-season

Senior Rickie Anderson was honored Saturday as one of five soccer players finishing up their career at South Fork [Photo by Crystal Salomon]

Both of South Fork High’s varsity soccer teams have achieved records qualifying them for a berth in the North Coast Section Division 3 Championship tournaments to open on November 1.

The teams have wrapped up league play, with both squads taking losses to large schools Arcata, Del Norte and Fortuna down the stretch. The girls traveled to Mendocino last Thursday and eked out a 1-0 win in the rain to get their 3rd win against Division 3 (enrollment of 299 and below) competition and a qualifying record of 3-3-1 in the division.

The boys are 2-1 against Division 3 schools.

Both teams will rest during the upcoming week while the higher finishing teams in the Humboldt-Del Norte League play a league tournament modeled after the Niclai tournament held at the end of each basketball season. This is a welcome respite for the Lady Cubs, who have played with fewer than 11 players in their last three matches due to injury.

Senior Daphne Hobbs makes a save against Arcata last week [Photo by Crystal Salomon]

The NCS tournament has been expanded this year due to the number of cancelled games among schools affected by the fires. Not only will teams with qualifying records be admitted, but all schools are eligible to apply regardless of record, and the seeding committee will fill the tournament bracket with teams that don’t have the normally required 500-or-better percentage of wins.

This might mean an early round hosting opportunity for South Fork. The seeding will take place next Sunday and the results will be online at cifncs.org by mid-afternoon.

Last Saturday, both teams played a fun scrimmage among themselves and raised funds for fire victims, raising several hundred dollars. South Fork’s Booster Club is also filling a trailer with much needed supplies to be delivered next week to the fire-affected areas.

The fun game and fundraiser also gave the soccer teams a chance to honor the 5 seniors who will be graduating in June.

Rickie Anderson and Chris Arbuthnot both played soccer for three years (there was no team their junior year due to low numbers).

Freshman Jaylenne Harris (right) has been crucial to South Fork’s defense this season. Also pictured #5 Alahni Christianson [Photo by Crystal Salomon]

Estefania Bautista has played four years and has anchored the defense with her steady calm demeanor on the field, her positive attitude and her outstanding work ethic.

Daphne Hobbs has also been a defensive standout, playing sweeper, stopper, fullback, and goalie during her 4 seasons as a Lady Cub. Daphne hopes to continue to play in college at some level. She wants to study Environmental Science or Agricultural Business and hopes to attend Cal Poly or UC Davis.

Olivia Baffert has played forward all four years and holds the current single season scoring record for a Lady Cub at 15 goals, a feat she accomplished her sophomore year. Olivia wants to study Tourism and Hospitality through an online college program while living in Chile, her second home.

Junior Cooper Scott has kept South Fork in many games with outstanding goalkeeping [Photo by Crystal Salomon]

In summing up his first season as head coach of the high school team Kelly Paine had this to say: “From the beginning it was obvious we needed a lot of practice. [There was no boys’ team last year due to low numbers.] But these guys really came together and decided we weren’t going to get beaten up this season, and for the most part, we didn’t.” The team was 2-14-1 overall, but the losses, with a couple exceptions, were not humiliating blow-outs and there is clear potential for this talented group of athletes.

“There is a lot of learning to do, these guys are young,” Paine added. “They’re going to be a force if they keep playing. Paine singled out first time player freshman Graham McConnell who looked like a veteran after just a few games and became a key defender  for the Cubs. Freshmen Cameron Messenger, Julian Senn, and Ethan Kulchin “have a lot of soccer savvy.”

Junior Goalie Cooper Scott “is one of the main reasons we’ve kept scores down. He’s got smarts and is surprisingly quick with his hands. He’s been fabulous.”

Paine acknowledges the skill, sportsmanship, and attitude of his sophomore son Jayden and the father-son duo take a place in South Fork soccer history alongside the team’s very first coach Steve Anderson and his son Chris when the high school team first started back in 1988. “I got to see how a father-son coaching relationship should be. I’m lucky I get to take Jayden home with me every night. We bounce stuff off each other and it makes us both better.”

Paine also had praise for junior Desi Lafferty who has found a home on defense, and for junior defender Gerardo Lopez, who has been a consistent player in the back all season. For his senior captains Chris Arbuthnot and Rickie Anderson, Paine had praise for their leadership, consistency and toughness all season.

Freshman Kaylee Pogue has been a big help in the midfield and on defense this season [Photo by Crystal Salomon]

The 2016 girls lost 7 players to graduation and relocation from their roster of 14 last year. With 6 new faces, four of them freshmen and three with little to no soccer experience beyond recreational youth leagues if at all, the team was facing a major rebuilding project after getting to the post-season for the first time in four years last season.

With surprising contributions from freshmen Marian Del Rio, Jaylenne Harris, and sophomore Harley Bates, the team looked more solid than expected. Other newcomers freshmen Kaylee Pogue and Alahni Christianson settled into solid roles on the field. Junior Regina Salomon took especially well to soccer, and scored two goals before a knee injury shortened her season.

The seven returners have held things together. Seniors Daphne Hobbs and Estefania Bautista anchored the defense, while junior Sophia Wallace Boyd controlled the midfield and led the team in assists. Senior Olivia Baffert and junior Kylie Messenger scored 19 of the team’s 23 goals between them at the striker position. Junior Kaya Voelkers has helped the team by playing a variety of roles filling in for injured players.

Sophomore Paloma Avilez has had a brilliant first full year in goal, making numerous world class saves and giving her young and inexperienced team a sense of security behind them.




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