Prep girls soccer: Cloquet goalkeeping duties in good handsIf Cloquet’s state tournament game against Totino-Grace goes into a penalty shootout tonight, the Lumberjacks should be in good hands.
By: Rick Weegman, Duluth News Tribune
If Cloquet’s state tournament game against Totino-Grace goes into a penalty shootout tonight, the Lumberjacks should be in good hands.
The good hands of another Rathe goalkeeper, to be precise.
Senior Kenzie Rathe is the second of the sister duo to lead Cloquet’s girls soccer team to the high school state tournament, following the lead of her older sister, Kaitrin, who started for the Lumberjacks’ third-place team in 2009.
Cloquet (12-5-3) faces third-seeded Totino-Grace (15-2-2) in a Class A quarterfinal at 5:30 p.m. today at Roseville Area High School. That’s the same site where the Lumberjacks beat East Ridge in a shootout in the 2009 quarterfinals.
Kenzie Rathe was a freshman backup netminder on that team, not seeing any varsity action. But watching her sister, whom she calls her role model, cemented her desire to follow in her footsteps.
“I’ve always been inspired by her,” Kenzie said Wednesday. “I didn’t realize how much I wanted to be a goalkeeper until my high school years. My sister inspired me to keep going and try to get to the level she was at in her prime.”
She’s getting closer and closer. The younger Rathe sports a sub-1.4 goals-against average — a number inflated due to a 10-1 rout by top-ranked Benilde-
St. Margaret’s — with eight shutouts. She’ll be needed since the Eagles scored more than 60 goals this season.
“This week I’ve been training for the low shots and the high shots and staying focused 100 percent for all 80 minutes — or however long it goes,” she said.
Rathe was in top form during shootouts last week in the
Section 7A semifinals and championship game, allowing only one penalty-kick goal to each Princeton and Esko-Carlton.
“It doesn’t seem to bother her,” Cloquet coach Dustin Randall said of the penalty-kick format that decides matches. “She never complains when we practice them. It’s demanding on them, but she seems to thrive on the challenge.”
That may be due to long hours the Rathes spent with their father practicing to stop penalty kicks at Hilltop Field in Cloquet, just a stone’s throw from the family home.
Kenzie Rathe’s 5-foot-11 frame and long wingspan don’t hurt, either. The girl that teammates on the 2009 team used to call “octopus arms” can stretch from goalpost to goalpost.
Rathe credits defensive teammates Tara Longseth, Kristi Konietzko, Grace Sinisalo and Leah Boedigheimer, and expects them to be there again tonight to thwart challenges.
“We have a good, solid defense so I’m not too worried,” she said.
Randall, in his fifth season as coach, plans on sticking to a defensive formula in order to pull off the upset. That’s what the Lumberjacks did in the section final to stifle Esko-Carlton, which had only three shots on goal.
“We don’t mind if they are in our end because we’re used to handling that,” he said. “We believe in our team and we know that it can be done. There’s no pressure on us.”
And if the game ends up being decided by penalty kicks? Randall expects Rathe to handle that pressure, too.
“If we can get to a shootout, we’ll be happy,” he said.