Cloquet tops Esko-Carlton in shootout for 7A girls soccer titleKristie Konietzko, Carley Esse, Grace Sinisalo and Emily Rikkola scored in the shootout and goalie Kenzie Rathe stopped two of the three shots she faced to give Cloquet a 4-1 shootout victory over Esko in the Section 7A girls soccer championship Thursday at misty Public Schools Stadium.
By: Rick Weegman, Duluth News Tribune
Going through a penalty shootout just two nights earlier gave a sense of calm to Cloquet’s goalkeeper and penalty-kick takers as they faced Esko-Carlton in the same situation Thursday night, only this time with a state tournament berth on the line.
Just as they did in the Section 7A high school girls soccer semifinals, the Lumberjacks came through. Kristie Konietzko, Carley Esse, Grace Sinisalo and Emily Rikkola scored in the shootout and goalie Kenzie Rathe stopped two of the three shots she faced to give Cloquet a 4-1 shootout victory over the Eskomos after the teams had played to a 1-1 tie through two overtimes at misty Public Schools Stadium.
“We just went through the exact same situation the other night and we were ready,” Cloquet coach Dustin Randall said, referring to a shootout win over top-seeded Princeton.
Cloquet (12-5-3), which entered the playoffs as the fourth seed, advances to the Class A quarterfinals next week against an opponent and at a site to be determined.
“We practice shootouts nearly every night at practice so I knew we could do it,” said Rikkola, who was a freshman on the last Cloquet team that reached the state tournament in 2009 and who scored in the shootout Tuesday. “That one helped me so I knew not to be nervous and was able to calm down.”
Rathe, a senior, used her height and long wingspan to her advantage, stopping Erika Shady’s and Hillary Anderson’s penalty offerings.
“The other night helped and I’ve had PKs in the past, so that improves you,” she said. “I wasn’t nervous.”
Cloquet freshman Mikayla Baker scored the only goal of the first half, at 18:54, blasting a shot past goalkeeper DeAhna Kulas after receiving a touch pass from Maija Doran inside the penalty area. The Lumberjacks then appeared content to sit back and play defense in the second half, putting as many as nine field players in the penalty area and rarely allowing the Eskomos a good scoring opportunity.
“We knew they were fast and were going to wear us down and we’d have to hang on,” Randall said. “And that was the game plan, to hang on. It’s nice to know that you have a keeper like that because when it goes to (penalty kicks), you feel you still have the advantage.”
Sophomore defender Kailee Kiminski turned up the intensity and deflected in a crossing pass that first went off the hands of Rathe. Kiminski’s goal in the 68th minute re-energized the Eskomos, who dictated the pace for much of the remainder of regulation and the first of two 10-minute, sudden-death overtime periods.
Defending champion Esko-Carlton finished 13-7.
“We are a completely different team than we were at the beginning of the year,” Eskomos coach Nicole Peterson said. “We started the year 1-3 so for us to be here and be as competitive as we were, it’s a testament to how far these girls have come since the start of the season.”
Cloquet wins 4-1 in shootout
First Half — 1. C, Mikayla Baker (Maija Doran), 19th minute.
Second Half — 2. EC, Kailee Kiminski, 68th.
First Overtime — No scoring.
Second Overtime — No scoring.
Penalty shootout — Cloquet goals: Kristie Konietzko, Carley Esse, Grace Sinisalo, Emily Rikkola. Esko-Carlton goal: Kadee Karkkainen.
Goalies — Kenzie Rathe, C; DeAhna Kulas, EC.