Eskomos shift into winning gearFollowing a stretch of three straight losses, seventh-year Esko-Carlton Coach Nicki Peterson switched Erika Shady up front and the Eskomos (4-3) haven’t lost since.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
Moving from defense to forward is a transformation most girls soccer players wouldn’t expect. For Erika Shady, though, the adjustment from backfield to goal-scorer was her best move yet.
“Coach tried me at forward because we needed scorers, and I scored,” Shady said of her position switch last week. “That first day was the best practice we’ve had all year. Everything clicked for us.”
Perhaps that’s because the Esko junior has a history with finding the net. A youth forward growing up, Shady currently leads Esko-Carlton with three goals this fall, while the speedy, 5-foot-5 sparkplug added another in their 4-0 shutout win over Grand Rapids Monday evening at Les Knuti Field.
“It’s taken a few games to shift back, but it’s been really fun,” said Shady, who scored in her first game playing forward against Hibbing-Chisholm last Tuesday. “It’s good to get back into it.”
So far, so good. Following a stretch of three straight losses, seventh-year Esko-Carlton Coach Nicki Peterson switched Shady up front and the Eskomos (4-3) haven’t lost since.
Defeating Hibbing-Chisholm, East Grand Forks and Grand Rapids in that stretch, Peterson said her new forward now plays alongside her older sister, senior Marisa Shady. Along with soccer, the two also compete in cross country, basketball as well as track and field.
“The two of them combine very well together,” Peterson said. “They’ve both had a lot of chances up top. They have a lot of control and it’s tough to stop their speed.”
Quickness on command is an Eskomo strength. Peterson said her team is still a work in progress, but assets include an improving defense, controllable midfielders and fast forwards that have outscored their opposition 10-1 in their last three games.
Along with Erika Shady’s first-half goal Monday, senior Dallas Cossalter and juniors Kailee Katt and Kailey Buhr also scored against Grand Rapids, while junior goalkeeper DeAhna Kulas posted her third shutout of the season.
“We were struggling offensively to find some goal-scoring, but in our last three games we’ve had a lot of different players score a lot of different ways,” Peterson said. “It’s definitely been a team effort.”
Cossalter, a midfielder who scored her first goal of the year Monday, said during their current three-game winning streak the team has been applying intense practice methods on game day.
“Now we’re getting into our groove,” Cossalter said. “We had a bit of a rocky start, but now we’re figuring out what works for us.”
And although she didn’t play recreationally with Erika Shady, Cossalter knows her teammate’s new role up front has helped, too.
“She has such a variety of skills and speed up top, she can really play anywhere,” said Cossalter. “She’s definitely as good as she used to be, if not better.”
“I was a big goal-scorer in the rec leagues,” added Shady, “but usually I am just at the right spot at the right time. I guess I’m lucky.”
Esko will host Hermantown Thursday evening and head to Chisago Lakes Area Saturday.
The Cloquet-Esko-Carlton boys soccer team extended its 14-game home unbeaten streak Tuesday with an 8-0 shellacking of visiting Two Harbors. Westin Michaud tallied a hat trick, while Nolan Ripp added a pair of strikes for a Lumberjacks (4-2-2) team that hasn’t lost yet in the month of September.
The Cloquet girls soccer team has been undefeated in their past three affairs, tying 1-1 with Hermantown last Thursday and Princeton Saturday. Emily Rikkola and Kayla Baker each scored for the ’Jacks (2-3-2).