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Richmond Seju (left) and Domenico Tomaselli have combined for 13 goals in Cloquet-Esko-Carlton's first five soccer games. Seju, of Monrovia, Liberia, and Tomaselli, of Trento, Italy, interact much like best friends, as the pair of Lumberjack seniors savor their time in the United States. Tyler Korby/Pine Journal

Friends forever: Foreign forwards front CEC

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Friends forever: Foreign forwards front CEC
Cloquet Minnesota 122 Avenue C 55720

It was no surprise that Richmond Seju and Domenico Tomaselli were smiling as they walked off the field together last Friday. The pair of Cloquet-Esko-Carlton boys soccer players had combined for eight of CEC's previous 11 goals in fewer than 24 hours.

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The high-scoring forwards have a lot in common, on and off the field.

Each came to the United States from his native country for a different reason, but -- as they laughed about together last week -- both love everything about soccer.

Seju, of Monrovia, Liberia, is a 17-year-old senior in his second year at Cloquet. He explained his journey overseas from western Africa began because of war within his homeland.

"We'd be playing soccer and all of a sudden we'd hear gunshots," recalled Seju. "Then we'd have to quit."

Seju has quit worrying about war occurring during soccer games these days, as he currently lives with his aunt and uncle, Regina Weah and Sampson Dolo, in Cloquet. Seju's mother and father also live within the state, residing in Brooklyn Park, Minn.

"It's like a new beginning," Seju said, "a better life."

Unlike Seju, who began playing soccer as a young boy, Tomaselli took up the game just three years ago in Europe.

From Trento, Italy, Tomaselli is also 17 years old and a senior at Cloquet. On a five-month foreign exchange student trip and living with Scott and Monica Hanson, Tomaselli explained he arrived in Cloquet at 3 a.m. on Aug. 7, five hours before the Lumberjacks' opening 8 a.m. captain's practice.

"It was difficult," Tomaselli said.

What hasn't been difficult for the pair of 5-foot-8, 145-pound strikers is making an immediate impact with CEC.

Thus far, Tomaselli and Seju lead the Lumberjacks (3-2) in scoring, joining for 13 goals in their first five games. On Tuesday evening, Tomaselli tallied two more netters and Seju assisted twice in a 4-3 double-overtime defeat at Duluth Marshall.

"I don't have the stats, but Domenico leads in scoring and Richmond isn't far behind," CEC Coach Archie Clark said. "They both have their own styles, but feed off of each other nicely. Even at practice, they get there early and stay late."

Clark, in his ninth season, has seen a lot of soccer players. He said while Seju -- who runs the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes for the track team in the spring -- is flashy with his feet, Tomaselli is a shifty dribbling wizard with good ball control.

"I'm not so fast," laughed Tomaselli, alongside Seju.

While Seju said he acquired his American citizenship and will stay here, Tomaselli may return to pursue a college degree.

Wednesday was the first day of a new high school, however.

"I'm a bit nervous," Tomaselli admitted, knowing just Seju and a few other students. "We don't have any classes together."

"We have the same lunch," Seju chimed to his new friend.

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