Esko works OT to reach Section 7A finalHIGH SCHOOL GIRLS SOCCER: Pushing 5 feet tall in soccer cleats, Kadee Karkkainen is probably the last player one would expect to inflict damage in the penalty area.
By: Rick Weegman, Duluth News Tribune
Pushing 5 feet tall in soccer cleats, Kadee Karkkainen is probably the last player one would expect to inflict damage in the penalty area.
But the midfielder scored Esko-Carlton’s most important goal of the high school girls soccer season, booting home a rebound off the post to give the visiting Eskomos a 2-1 overtime victory over Hermantown in a Section 7A semifinal Tuesday at Corey Veech Field.
“She’s got some of the best ball-skill and ability to finish on our team, so her size doesn’t matter,” Eskomos coach Nicole Peterson said. “She’s always where she needs to be when she’s playing that outside-mid (position).”
Third-seeded Esko-Carlton (13-6), winner of nine of its past 11 games, advances to meet No. 4 Cloquet in the section final at 6 p.m. Thursday at Public Schools Stadium. Cloquet (11-5-3) edged top-seeded Princeton in a shootout in the other semifinal.
The Eskomos are defending champions, while the Lumberjacks last went to the state tournament in 2009.
Elle Emanuel, who scored Esko-Carlton’s other goal in the first half on a rebound after Hawks goalkeeper Courtney Simmons had stopped a penalty kick, drove a shot off the right post that deflected out to Karkkainen in front. The diminutive junior promptly put home the game-winner with 2:18 left in the first overtime.
“One goofy bounce, and that’s it,” Hawks coach Scott Larson said about the deflection.
Moments earlier, that bounce nearly went Hermantown’s way. Junior forward Hailey Hoff, the leading scorer in the Northland, was unguarded in the penalty area and only Eskomos goalie DeAhna Kulas stood between her and the victory. Kulas deflected the shot with both hands over the crossbar for a corner kick.
Then it was Hoff’s Gitchi Gummi summer-league teammate’s chance to be the hero. She didn’t have to use her head, but wouldn’t have hesitated going up against the taller defenders if necessary.
“I like the headers; most of the time I can get up and take the headers,” she said. “When you see an opportunity, you have to have it in your mind that you’re going to finish it.”
Emanuel gave the Eskomos the lead at the 18-minute mark after Hermantown (13-4-2) was called for a hand ball off a corner kick. Simmons, who was in the nets for a shootout loss to Esko-Carlton in last season’s semifinals and in the teams’ regular-season split this year, dove left and stopped Hillary Anderson’s penalty kick. But Emanuel, a freshman forward, was in the right place at the right time to follow up.
“If you don’t react defensively and instead watch that ball trickle back out, that’s what is going to happen,” Larson said. “(Simmons) did all she could do, (the defense) has to swallow up the rebound.”
After the Eskomos had a goal called off due to an offside violation with less than 11 minutes to play, Hermantown dominated play. The Hawks’ persistence paid off when a hand ball was whistled in the box and Hoff put the ensuing penalty kick past Kulas’ outstretched arms with 6:32 left in regulation.
“I was concerned because they had the momentum the entire second half,” Peterson said. “I felt we were playing too defensively and trying to save our lead rather than playing offensively. We were fortunate to get out of that second half 1-1.”
Karkkainen made sure they went home happy.
First Half — 1. EC, Elle Emanuel, 18th.
Second Half — 2. H, Hailey Hoff (penalty kick), 84th.
First Overtime — 3. EC, Kadee Karkkainen (Emanuel), 88th.
Goalies — DeAhna Kulas, EC; Courtney Simmons, H.