By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Mariah Meuse scored both Rancho Cotate goals Wednesday night at Rohnert Park as the Cougars defeated visiting Fortuna, 2-1, to advance to the quarterfinals of the North Coast Section Division I girls soccer tournament.
Rancho, the No. 7 seed, will now play No. 2 Cardinal Newman at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Meuse scored the game’s first and last goal. The senior opened the scoring 17 minutes before halftime and scored what turned out to be the game winner with 21 minutes remaining.
On the first goal, she took a pass from freshman Tea Lopes and used her left foot to put it past Fortuna keeper Katrina Cahill. On the second, Alissa Hickling got the assist.
“I usually kick with my right foot but on that first goal, a defender was on my right side, so I went with my left foot,” Meuse said.
“On the second goal, Alissa came down the side of the field and gave me a cross. I was in the box and got a clear shot.”
The game was played in a steady rain that made the all-purpose turf field slippery.
“It was nearly impossible to cut and stay on your feet,” Rancho’s Liz Duport-Borders said. “It was also difficult to stop and keep your balance.”
The condition of the field probably helped Fortuna.
“We wanted to come out and be aggressive,” winning coach Dennis Holmberg. “It was tough putting anything together with the field being so slippery.”
Fortuna, the No. 10 seed from the Humboldt-Del Norte League, scored its goal 16 minutes before halftime. Merritt Schoenhofer got free inside the box and beat keeper Vickie Espinoza. The Huskies finish the season 16-5.
Looking to the quarterfinals, Rancho and Cardinal Newman met twice this season with the Cardinals winning both times by 1-0 scores.
“If we step it up a notch, we have a good chance of winning,” Meuse said. “Both games were close, so we know we can play with them.”
Rancho plays on with an 11-10-2 record.