U-17 Cloquet girls soccer team mixes it up on the pitchCloquet’s Maija Doran may not be the next Mia Hamm, but watching her find the back of the net on the soccer field, it’s hard not to compare the Lumberjack forward with the United States Olympian.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
Cloquet’s Maija Doran may not be the next Mia Hamm, but watching her find the back of the net on the soccer field, it’s hard not to compare the Lumberjack forward with the United States Olympian.
“I like to score goals, yeah,” said Doran, a Cloquet junior. “I don’t ever want to be a ball hog or anything like that, but yeah, if I am open, then I am going to shoot it.”
Doran netted 15 goals and added five assists for a team-leading 20 points in 16 games for the Lumberjacks’ last varsity season. The 5-foot-3 dribbling wizard is again one of the squad’s leading scorers on this summer’s Cloquet Under-17 Competitive 2 team, a team that features a variety of varsity and junior varsity players.
That has been the biggest hurdle they have had to climb this summer. According to Doran, the beginning of their season was slow, as they discovered how to blend their youth and experience together.
“Early on, we were getting beat to the ball and beat on the scoreboard,” Doran said. “It has taken us time, but we have learned how to work together. We’re fast, powerful and a pretty well-rounded team, I think.”
Cloquet varsity girls soccer Coach Dustin Randall directs things in the summer as well. He noted that Doran heads things up front, while veteran speedsters Emily Rikkola and Chelsea Baublitz mix well with newcomer striker Anna Fossen.
Randall said Kristi Konietzko, Morgan Jensen and Becca Hammond have all transitioned from midfielders to defenders with the absence of Gracie Sinisalo (a broken arm) and Tara Longseth (away in Germany) for most of the summer season.
“We have a real mix of players that really haven’t played much with each other before,” Randall said. “They have always been on two teams. And now, with injuries and vacations, it’s allowed the kids to step up and get involved in different spots. We’ve struggled, but it has been good.”
Rikkola said she loves playing soccer. Like Doran, she said the team has blossomed since beginning practice indoors at the high school in March. She noted working with Fossen has been nice.
“She’s young still, but she’s fast and aggressive,” Rikkola, a midfielder, said of the freshman. “She does a good job.”
Rikkola is as quick as they come on the pitch. Running a 400-meter dash in just over a minute, the 5-foot-3 speedster works well in the middle, while usually dishing the ball to Doran. Rikkola was just behind her teammate Doran last season, sitting second in scoring with 13 points.
“We’ve improved a lot,” Rikkola said of their summer squad, “but once everyone gets healthy and comes back, I think we can be pretty good. We have to work hard, but everyone loves coming up here to play.”
As a part of the Minnesota Youth Soccer Association Competitive 2 Northern Division, Cloquet hosts its final league game Sunday at 5 p.m. at Hilltop Park. Coach Randall said the team’s league record sits at 5-3, discounting tournament play, where he noted they have improved over the season.
“We played in the Plymouth C1 tournament recently and lost in overtime in the championship despite missing some players of ours,” Randall said. “I think we all thought it was a step forward for us.”
In the summertime, that’s what Randall wants his program to do.
“We are constantly preparing for the fall,” he said, “but we have fun, too. I don’t want this to be a three-month tryout for these girls. Summer is time for soccer and we’re putting in the time.”
While Doran keeps finding the back of the net.
Just like Hamm used to do.