FORTUNA – You needed more than just a couple of spare hands to count up the goal scoring opportunities the Fortuna girls soccer team generated Saturday night.
The only thing was that they were going just about every direction other than into the back of the net — high, wide, off the post, saved by the opposing goalkeeper.
But with the clock winding down, one of the Huskies’ youngsters was able to break through and score the decisive goal.
Freshman midfielder Aubrie Hall’s putback into a wide-open net in the 70th minute was the difference as Fortuna claimed a 2-1 win over St. Helena — which played with 10 players for the entire 80 minutes — in the second round of the North Coast Section Division 1 playoffs at Husky Field.
Even with Hall’s 70th-minute goal, Fortuna got a huge scare in the final seconds of the game when St. Helena (11-3) came oh-so-close to tying it, but the Saints’ last-ditch effort went rolling just wide of the post.
It was one of St. Helena’s few ventures forward in the game, with Fortuna (14-4-3) dominating both possession and the scoring opportunities.
The Huskies finished the game outshooting the 10-man Saints 38-4. That meant it was quite the busy night for St. Helena goalkeeper Blayney Adamson.
And Adamson certainly kept the Saints in the game, recording 12 saves on the night, many of which being far from routine.
When asked what the first half might have been if not for Adamson’s efforts in goal, St. Helena head coach Tash Bunge simply said, “4-0.”
“She not only sacrificed for her teammates, but for herself,” Bunge continued. “She got knocked down and just got up again.”
St. Helena tied the game at 1-1 in the 54th minute when Tina Almanza successfully converted a penalty kick past the diving effort of Fortuna goalkeeper Juliana Ortega-Miranda.
Hall, part of Fortuna’s all-freshman attack, jumped on a loose ball after Adamson made a diving save to her right to deny Sarah Killfoil’s initial scoring opportunity. With no defender around her, Hall simply guided her shot into the back of the net to put her team back in front at 2-1.
It was the reward for a tough night in front of goal.
“We felt like we had some opportunities and it’s frustrating when you’re not finding the back of the net, you’re hitting the post multiple times. It was just one of those nights,” Fortuna head coach Kathleen Lynch said. “That being said, (Adamson) did a tremendous job and really hats off to their entire team playing a man down the entire match. You could see why they hadn’t given up many goals throughout the course of their season.”
Five minutes before Hall’s game-winning strike came the biggest defensive play of the night for the Huskies.
Ortega-Miranda, who recently returned to the starting lineup after battling a knee injury, used every bit of her 5-foot-7 frame and outstretched arms to snag a looping shot headed toward the back post by Cynthia Vargas.
“That was a fantastic save,” Lynch said. “Jules, over her whole career here, has made those kinds of saves in big games for us. She and KC Cortes have been working hard with their knee injuries to get back. They’ve been out there every single day with us all year to give them the opportunity to come back, and they’ve been fantastic.”
Fortuna, which was pushing a double-digit shot total within the first 10 minutes of the game, got on the board in the 18th minute thanks to a St. Helena miscommunication in the box.
Killfoil took advantage of a pair of Saints unable to clear the ball and, like Hall in the second half, had a wide-open net to shoot into to grab the early 1-0 lead.
“That first goal was almost like an own goal,” Bunge said. “Our problem today was that we didn’t communicate. That was really our problem. But I have to say, we’ve always been a second half team and we came on strong in the second half.”
Fortuna now will line up Wednesday night against Humboldt-Del Norte League rival Arcata, which beat Roseland University Prep 2-0 on Saturday.