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Cloquet girls soccer teams take on State together

The Cloquet U-17 and U-15 girls soccer teams are both currently competing in the Minnesota Youth Soccer Association state tournament this week, as the 17s, coached by Dustin Randall, are in Hugo, Minn., and 15s, coached by Bobbie Turner, are at Shakopee, Minn. Each team won their respective league titles and then districts and are among six teams at their age level to participate in state competition. Contributed Photo 1 / 2
Cloquet’s Erin Turner heads a ball in a recent U-15 girls soccer game. The Cloquet U-15 girls competitive C3 soccer team won their league title and are playing at State this week. Photo contributed by Jen Blatchford 2 / 2

Cloquet is sending two competitive girls soccer teams to the state tournament this week, an achievement both coaches say comes from growing together as a team over the summer months.

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Members of the  15-and-Under competitive Cloquet girls soccer team are competing in the Minnesota Youth Soccer Association state tournament this week in Shakopee, Minn., an event highlighting the team’s summer-long success and growth together as teammates.

“When we had our first practice, I didn’t think we could get here, but it’s been pretty exciting,” said Erin Turner, a 14-year-old forward and midfielder entering ninth grade at Cloquet High School this fall. “I’ve made some new friends I didn’t think I’d be friends with — mostly because of soccer.”

Soccer is a sport that Turner said she has played under her mother, Bobbie, since around the age of 6. Coaching her daughter once again this summer, Bobbie Turner said her group of 17 young players has been an overachieving bunch.

With a team spreading through several grades, only four of the players, the elder Turner explained, are required to play U-15.

“All the rest can play U-14 or U-13,” she said. “For them to be playing this great, you don’t expect that, but they definitely have exceeded all expectations. It’s been fantastic.”

Coach Turner added that along with being youthful, this is the first time for many of the players to be playing together.

Cohesion hasn’t seemed to be an issue, as the team was unbeaten in league play — allowing a miniscule five goals in 10 games behind goalie Brandy Nelson — and winning their district and defeating Crow River 2-1 in their first game at State last Sunday in Shakopee.

Another victory Thursday, July 24, over New Prague would likely solidify a spot in Saturday’s state championship match.

“They really work together well,” Bobbie Turner said. “We’ve had games with six goals from six different shooters.”

Also shooting their way to State this week in Hugo, Minn., is the U-17 Cloquet girls, coached by high school varsity coach Dustin Randall, entering his sixth season.

Randall has 19 players on his squad, which also placed first in league play and won districts.

Defensive stopper and Cloquet senior captain Rachel Morrison said she and her teammates are leading up to the varsity season that begins next month. Also an employee at Premiere Theatres, Morrison said altering her work schedule is worth it.

“I love soccer, it’s my favorite thing to do,” she said.

And in a sport where some players go to club teams and leave home, Randall knows both groups are building it right.

“These are two groups that decided to stick in town and stick together,” he said. “I think that tightness will help out.”