Esko-Carlton stuns Wildcats, returns to state for first time since 2005The Eskomos defeated top-seeded Chisago Lakes Area 2-0 in the Section 7A championship game last Thursday night in Lindstrom, Minn. and earned the right to go to state. The upset win avenged back-to-back section title losses for the Eskomos, which lost to the Wildcats in last year’s final and to Cloquet the year before that.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
Esko junior Hillary Anderson has two red Section 7A runner-up medals from her varsity soccer career, but now she sports a blue one: her Section 7A Championship medal.
Using her breakout corner kick ability, the Esko-Carlton junior midfielder netted a goal and added an assist to lead the Eskomos past top-seeded Chisago Lakes Area 2-0 in the Section 7A championship game last Thursday night in Lindstrom, Minn. The soothing upset win avenged back-to-back section title losses for the Eskomos, which lost to the Wildcats in last year’s final and to Cloquet the year before that.
“We talked about all the red medals, so we said we’d come out with blue this time,” said Anderson, a fourth-year
varsity player. “We all wanted it so bad. It was probably the best we have played all year.”
Talented in the midfield, Anderson thrives when setting up corner kicks. As Esko’s top corner choice, the 5-foot-7 Anderson set up teammate Kadee Karkkainen for the game’s first goal last week, coming less than a minute into the second half.
No more than 10 minutes later, Anderson blazed a ball off the bottom of the cross bar off her corner set piece, which eventually – after some traffic at the net – went in.
“She’s the person we go to,” said Esko-Carlton Coach Nicki Peterson. “She’s a playmaker for us.”
Karkkainen agreed, noting that Anderson’s pinpoint accuracy can make things pretty easy for her teammates.
“We know pretty much where the ball is going to go,” said Karkkainen, a sophomore forward. “All we have to do is try get there at the right time.”
Anderson, whose been playing the sport since the age 5 or 6, said that corner kicks are quite simple.
“I just kick it high,” she said, “and try put it in, I guess.”
Although Anderson has just five goals this fall, she contributed to the scoring sheet in their most crucial game, sending the Eskomos to the state tournament for the second time. Their first trip was in 2005.
“It feels like there is a monkey off my back,” Peterson said after the win. “There was a lot of emotion, a lot of joy. It finally paid off.”
“Words can’t describe how excited we were,” said Karkkainen. “We were ecstatic when that final bell rang.”
Earning emotional one-goal victories over Two Harbors and Hermantown en route to the finals, the Eskomos were the better team last week, controlling the game’s tempo, especially after scoring twice just after
“It was the fastest, strongest, most physical that we have played all season long,” Peterson said. “They knew they had the talent to do it.”
Esko-Carlton (13-5-1) were led this season by senior forward Caitlin Lilly’s 24 goals, but Peterson said it’s been their defense and senior goalkeeper Rachel Ofstie that have been the difference in the postseason.
“Rachel has been our unsung hero in the back of the net,” Peterson said of her netminder, who has nine shutouts already. “In my mind, she’s the MVP.”
Peterson noted, however, that their program’s success this year has been a combined effort of their on-the-field skills, experience and chemistry between all of her players who suit up.
“Most of them play together competitively in the summer,” she said. “And this year, they came in stronger and knowing they were a team that could
“We’ve all been playing together so long,” Anderson added. “I think it gives us an advantage. We all know where we can put it.”
The Eskomos faced third-seeded Rochester Lourdes (17-1-1) in St. Cloud in the Class A quarterfinals Wednesday as this addition of the Pine Journal went to press.
It promises to be quite a week for both the Anderson and Cossalter families. Anderson’s brother, Brock, also plays in the state tournament this week for the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton boys team, while the same connection is made between Esko-Carlton’s Dallas Cossalter and her older brother Austin, who plays for CEC.
And that only adds up to more chances for blue medals to come back north.