Trips to Munger build team spiritWithout a home soccer field in Esko all season, driving north to the nearby Munger community has become routine — yet also the setting for many memories — for Kadee Karkkainen.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
Without a home soccer field in Esko all season, driving north to the nearby Munger community has become routine — yet also the setting for many memories — for Kadee Karkkainen.
“I have some stories,” said the Esko senior Monday afternoon. “One time, we forgot to bring five girls with us.”
Karkkainen didn’t forget how to score Tuesday, as the senior forward netted two goals and added an assist in Esko’s 6-0 rout over Eveleth-Gilbert Area in Munger.
It’s been there, in the unincorporated community in Solway Township, where Karkkainen and her teammates have practiced and played girls soccer since construction began on their school’s new stadium last spring. The field in Munger, about 10 minutes from Esko, is surrounded by tall pine trees.
“It’s in the middle of the sticks,” first-year Esko Coach Jeff Emanuel said. “At least once or twice per game, a kick goes down into the woods. Then we all look at each other.”
Esko (6-5-1) has looked to its class of nine seniors to carry the team on the field, and also to the field this fall. Karkkainen, who owns a 2002 Hyundai Sonata, drives a multitude of younger players to the field after school each day. Classmate Kailee Katt does the same in her 1993 Eagle Summit, a 20-year-old vehicle pushing nearly 100,000 miles.
“It’s been racking up the miles,” said Katt, a sweeper. “But we’re just trying to do as much as we can to help. The younger girls have been great about chipping in gas money.”
One of those girls is Ava Gonsorowski. The 14-year-old — who scored and assisted on Tuesday — can’t drive yet, but has appreciated what her neighbor Katt has done every day.
“It’s a privilege to have the older girls drive us — I think it has actually helped us,” said Gonsorowski, a freshman midfielder, admitting Katt is a good driver. “Yeah, she is.”
Driving in the most goals this fall has been Karkkainen, with six, while Emanuel’s daughter, Elle, has 11 assists. Goalkeeper DeAhna Kulas has played every minute, too, as the senior is one of three captains with Katt and Erika Shady.
“In my eyes, though, I see nine captains,” Emanuel said prominently. “I can’t say enough about this group of seniors.”
It’s a group that — on Saturday — will take to a new turf stadium.
“They’ve been through a lot of road work,” Esko Athletic Director Chad Stoskopf said of all the Esko athletes. “The kids have been so flexible and now it’s kind of a dream come true. I think they’re going to be excited about what they see.”
“I think I can speak for everyone — we’re all excited to get on there,” Karkkainen said. “We’ve been through a lot.”
Even the day five teammates were accidentally forgotten.