Esko-Carlton soccer aims to fill some big shoesBrooke Schramm is one of half a dozen girls returning to the midfield for Esko-Carlton this fall, as the Eskomos begin a new season following last year’s memorable state tournament run.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
As a midfielder for the Esko-Carlton girls soccer team, Brooke Schramm said she sometimes serves on offense and defense trying to control the ball. Running almost non-stop, there are days she’s worn out.
“A lot of it is about possession of the ball, and it’s tiring,” said the Esko senior, now in her third season on the Esko varsity team. “But it’s like every position. They all have their hard points.”
The 5-foot-8 sparkplug is one of half a dozen girls returning to the midfield for Esko-Carlton this fall, as the Eskomos begin a new season following last year’s memorable state tournament run.
“Looking back, it was sad to finally lose, but we’re just happy we got there and made it,” Schramm said of their program’s second-ever state appearance and first since their inaugural trip back in 2005. “I think everyone is still a little bit excited from it.”
Her coach agreed. According to Esko-Carlton Coach Nicki Peterson, 49 girls are out for the program’s varsity, junior varsity and C-team. Peterson, in her seventh year with the team, said practice is closing its second week already and games start soon.
Noting her squad features nine seniors and half a dozen juniors with playing experience, Peterson said her upperclassmen will be vital. Although their home at 40-year-old Les Knuti Field is without a scoreboard, lights or even bleachers this August, Peterson said the first couple weeks have been workable.
“It’s hard to tell where you’re at when you just play against yourself,” she said with a laugh. “I’m happy. We’re off to a good start. We have things to work on and some big holes to fill still.”
Perhaps the biggest hole will be replacing goal-scoring wizard Caitlin Lilly. The former go-to Esko forward netted a team-leading 24 goals last fall and was a handful for defenses to contain. Lilly currently plays at Winona State University, while Peterson said the graduation of two-year goalkeeper Rachel Ofstie and four-year defender Sarah Juntunen will also be difficult shoes to fill.
“We certainly don’t think one player is going to contribute almost 30 goals like Caitlin did, but it’s going to take a team effort,” Peterson said. “We’ll see who’s going to step up and score goals.”
There are options. Along with Schramm, seniors Tori Zime, Dallas Cossalter, Hillary Anderson and Megan Tomczak all return to the midfield, along with sophomore speedster Bailey Mudek.
The Shady sisters also are back with senior Marisa as a forward and junior Erika as a defender. Senior Erika Olson is also a defender with junior Kailee Katt, while freshman forward Elle Emanuel is looking to be a youthful scoring threat, according to Peterson.
Junior DeAhna Kulas will be the team’s new netminder.
“We’re still pretty experienced,” Peterson said. “The section is tough and I think it will come down to whoever is playing their best soccer late. Last year, we were fortunate enough to win in the end.”
“A lot of these senior girls have been playing in this program since seventh grade,” she continued. “They know they can get to state and play. I think they’ll be disappointed if it doesn’t happen again.”
Esko opens its season Thursday and Friday at home.
“Just watching the jamboree [in Duluth Monday], there were a lot of good teams,” Schramm said. “We can’t get ahead of ourselves. It’s one game at a time.”