CEC falls against Greyhounds
If you watched the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton boys soccer team Monday night, one thing was evident: It’s October.
As somewhat chillier temperatures set in across the season’s final stretch, many clubs – including the Lumberjacks – are piecing together their best scoring tandems, tightening up their defense and preparing for the upcoming postseason.
Monday, CEC fell 2-1 to Class AA Duluth East in a non-conference engagement at Public Schools Stadium under the lights.
CEC Coach Archie Clark said the atmosphere was intense.
“It was almost like a playoff game in terms of the intensity,” he said. “We played very well and very hard. It was two very evenly matched teams. I was very happy. It was a good game for us.”
The rival Greyhounds struck first midway through the opening frame, before CEC senior forward Landen Straub netted his team-
leading 18th goal of the fall to tie things 1-1 entering halftime.
Yet, it was Billy Renier’s 42-minute strike from 30 yards out that carried Duluth East to their third straight win.
“He just got loose, had some space and cracked it,” recalled Clark of Renier’s game-winner. “And it just sailed into the net.”
With the defeat, the Lumberjacks (9-3-2) haven’t won in well over a week, last knocking off Hermantown Sept 24.
“I think we can play better,” Clark added. “We have to have good, crisp passing. That’s the key. We played great against Hermantown and we have to get back there.”
If they do, watch out.
“It’s going be exciting here,” said Clark of the upcoming postseason. “I think we’ll still be around in the end. I sure hope so.”
In a pair of Lake Superior Conference bouts to close their regular season, CEC will head to Proctor Thursday night before hosting Duluth Marshall Tuesday under the lights at Bromberg Field at 7 p.m.
The Section 7A playoffs open Oct. 13.
’Jacks and Eskomos clash Thursday
Ding, ding, ding. Round two.
Cloquet and neighboring Esko-Carlton will exchange blows in the much-anticipated girls soccer rematch at 7 p.m. Thursday night on Bromberg Field.
In their first meeting in late August, the Lumberjacks let an early lead slip into a 2-1 loss. Now they’re looking for revenge.
“You have no idea,” said Cloquet Coach Dustin Randall of the excitement. “And it’s under the lights. They’re pumped up.”
Lately the Lumberjacks (7-6) have been playing their best soccer, stringing together three straight wins over Grand Rapids, Proctor and a 10-0 shutout of Duluth Marshall Tuesday.
Against the Hilltoppers, Emily Rikkola recorded a hat trick, while Maija Doran and Emily Wangen buried two each. Kristi Konietzko, Kelsey Anderson and Carley Esse each added one netter in the rout as well. Breanna Tucker was the winning netminder, making four saves.
Doran leads Cloquet with 11 goals, followed by Rikkola with nine.
“It was a good opportunity for us, all of our girls got in,” said Randall. “It showed that we have some depth and can produce down our bench.”
In the last three games, Cloquet has outscored its opponents 20-2.
“We’ve had a few games here where we’ve scored in bunches,” continued Randall. “I think there’s a little more urgency, knowing the season’s end is near.”
Following Thursday’s match with Esko-Carlton, Cloquet will next host Duluth Denfeld Saturday afternoon before traveling to Duluth Marshall Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. to close their regular season.
Meanwhile, Esko-Carlton continues to play well.
The Eskomos (8-5-1) shut out Duluth Denfeld 3-0 Tuesday in a match Coach Nicki Peterson said was the Hunters’ first section loss.
“I was very excited for us,” Peterson said. “There are a lot of strong teams in our section, but I think tonight that made a statement for us.”
Tied 0-0 at halftime, Esko-Carlton senior forward Caitlin Lilly sank her team-best 19th and 20th goals, while sophomore Erika Shady added the other. It was senior goalkeeper Rachel Ofstie’s fifth shutout this fall.
“We didn’t get much to fall early, but then the girls got something to happen,” Peterson said.
Noting the stellar defensive work of senior Sarah Juntunen and junior Erika Olson, Peterson said it was her Eskomos’ defense that impressed her most Tuesday. “Our defense kept us in it,” she said.
Esko-Carlton also recently lost to defending Section 7A champion Chisago Lakes Area, then tied Hermantown last Saturday when eighth-grader Elle Emanuel scored her first-ever varsity goal.
The Eskomos will close their season Thursday at Cloquet.
Like the boys postseason, the girls Section 7A playoffs will open Oct. 13, featuring both the Eskomos and the Lumberjacks amongst the field of competitors.