Cloquet ices out Eskomos with good defenseAs a goalkeeper, Kenzie Rathe appreciates when her soccer teammates keep the ball away from the net. But the Cloquet senior can’t thank them enough for letting her back on the Lumberjacks’ team.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
As a goalkeeper, Kenzie Rathe appreciates when her soccer teammates keep the ball away from the net. But the Cloquet senior can’t thank them enough for letting her back on the Lumberjacks’ team.
Last fall, Rathe opted not to play the sport she loves, explaining she wanted to take the year off from varsity. It took watching only one game from the stands to know she wanted to return playing with her friends.
“I went to only one,” Rathe said. “I realized right away I missed it so much. I felt so bad, but am so grateful that I got a second chance.”
On Tuesday, Rathe was a star between the pipes, as the 5-foot-11 netminder stopped all 19 shots in a 2-0 Cloquet (1-2) shutout victory over neighboring rival Esko-Carlton (1-2) at Bromberg Field.
An avid youth player, Rathe said she worked with her older sister Kaitrin, a former goalie, over the summer to get back in varsity form. She also attended captains’ practices and went to tryouts three weeks ago. In her first shutout since returning, she credited her teammates first.
“I grew up playing with them,” Rathe said. “I was very comfortable; they saved me a bunch of times. We all did it together.”
Cloquet Coach Dustin Randall agreed, noting Tuesday was a collective effort by all involved. He highlighted defenders Kristi Konietzko, Mary Johnson, Gracie Sinisalo, Tara Longseth and Leah Boedigheimer. Randall added that senior midfielders Emily Wangen and Emily Rikkola covered a lot of the backfield on the Eskomos, too.
Randall said goal-scoring sensation Maija Doran attacked early, as the junior forward buried the ball past Esko-Carlton goalkeeper DeAhna Kulas within the first five minutes of the game. Cloquet freshman forward Mikayla Baker also netted her first career goal five minutes into the second, in a moment Randall said was quite exciting for the youngster.
“It’s hard to point out any one player because it was a good job by the whole group,” Randall said. “Our girls played real well. Esko is a good team. The idea was just to make it difficult to go through us.”
Rathe, meanwhile, did her part.
“We need to fix some things up defensively; Cloquet was a wall back there and Kenzie Rathe was flawless in the net,” Esko-Carlton Coach Nicki Peterson said. “We had our opportunities to score, but not a lot of quality chances. We possessed the ball well and fortunately we’ll get another shot at them later in the season. [Rathe] doesn’t give you many holes at all and we just couldn’t get one by her.”
Randall said Rathe’s voice and knowledge of where to send the ball make her a force. Her height is an advantage, too.
“She’s a nice, tall girl,” Randall said of Rathe, who also plays center for the basketball team. “She’s very vocal back there and distributes the ball well. She gives us some stability so our girls don’t have to panic.”
Rikkola admitted she could never play goalkeeper, but explained she played youth and high school soccer with Rathe as a teammate.
“She talks a lot and gets us motivated,” Rikkola said. “She has been working hard. We’re all pretty close knit. We haven’t beaten [Esko-Carlton] for a long time, so it was nice. They’re our biggest rivals.”
Esko-Carlton’s lone win came in their opener against Proctor, while Cloquet’s first victory was Tuesday. The pair of neighbors will again meet Oct. 4 in Esko, with Rathe likely assuming her favorite spot in goal.
“It’s just something I like to do,” Rathe said. “I’m so happy. We all have fun and love playing together. I felt [like I was] back, thanks to my team.”