State soccer: Eagles edge ’Jacks in shootoutLast week, Cloquet cleared Princeton and Esko-Carlton in back-to-back sudden-death shootouts, but it was the third-ranked Eagles which out-dueled the Lumberjacks 5-4 Thursday in a thrilling eight rounds in a Class A quarterfinal game in Roseville.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
ROSEVILLE — Perhaps playing for a shootout seems crazy, yet for Cloquet girls soccer Coach Dustin Randall, that was the strategy.
Randall’s Lumberjacks used penalty kicks to their advantage en route to the state tournament, yet for the first time in extra minutes this fall, Cloquet’s plan proved beatable in a 1-0 shootout loss to Totino-Grace in a Class A quarterfinal on a brisk Thursday night at Roseville Area High School.
Last week, Cloquet cleared Princeton and Esko-Carlton in back-to-back sudden-death shootouts, but it was the third-ranked Eagles which out-dueled the Lumberjacks 5-4 Tuesday in a thrilling eight rounds of penalty kickd.
“We didn’t want to give them anything,” Randall said, while walking out with the team balls afterward. “We got to a situation where we were happy; we were comfortable. And it just didn’t go our way."
Despite the defeat, Randall remained positive leaving the stadium Tuesday, highlighting his unseeded Lumberjacks’ (12-6-3) gutsy attempt.
“I don’t think they were ready for us,” Randall said. “It’s a bitter pill to swallow right now, but I’m proud of my girls. And they should be proud of their effort this year and proud of their effort tonight.”
Following a first half without many chances at all, Totino-Grace controlled pace throughout the second, including the final dozen minutes of regulation, driving balls off the post and crossbar moments after Cloquet goalkeeper Kenzie Rathe outstretched her arms for a stop.
The defensive-minded Lumberjacks – at times stacking nine players in the penalty area – held strong throughout 100 minutes of play, until penalty kicks were needed. Cloquet’s Carley Esse, Emily Rikkola, Alyssa Lamirande and Rebecca Hammond all scored as the teams exchanged makes and misses before Eagles’ senior defender Nicole Hagen knocked the ball over Rathe in the upper right corner.
Rathe, a 5-foot-11 senior, was stellar all evening, using her height and long wingspan to record numerous saves. After the final goal passed her, she consoled her saddened teammates, noting although the season-ending defeat was disappointing, they gave their best efforts in the program’s seventh state tournament appearance.
“We did all we could; the girls played their hearts out and that’s all we could ask for,” Rathe said afterward. “I’m proud of this team.”
It was even more meaningful because Rathe stepped away from the sport last season, only to be welcomed back this autumn by her field mates. With her high school career now closed, Rathe said that acceptance was meant most.
“I thanked them for letting me come back,” a teary-eyed Rathe said afterward. “We got to state. We came this far with such belief. They did more than I could ever ask for. I love each and every one of them.”
Cloquet 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 — 0
Totino-Grace 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 1 — 1
(Totino-Grace wins 5-4 in penalty-kick shootout.)
First Half — No scoring.
Second Half — No scoring.
First Overtime — No scoring.
Second Overtime — No scoring.
Shootout goals — C: Carley Esse, Emily Rikkola, Alyssa Lamirande, and Rebecca Hammond; TG: Alexandra Miller, Molly Adam, Annmarie Umland, Chaselyn Miller, and Nicole Hagen.
Goalies — Kenzie Rathe, C; Gabrielle Eisfelder, TG.