BOYS SOCCER: ’Jacks gelling at right timeCohesiveness has been a centerpiece of the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton boys soccer team lately, yet it’s taken the Lumberjacks until last week’s 2-1 comeback win at Grand Rapids to find their mojo.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
Cohesiveness has been a centerpiece of the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton boys soccer team lately, yet it’s taken the Lumberjacks until last week’s 2-1 comeback win at Grand Rapids to find their mojo.
“We knew that game was make-it-or-break-it,” said forward Ben Pietsch, who scored both of CEC’s goals on the Thunderhawks. “And we’ve all been going uphill ever since.”
Class AA power Duluth East recently one-upped the Lumberjacks 3-2 in overtime Monday night at Ordean Stadium in Duluth, rallying from two goals down at halftime.
Still, Pietsch, a Carlton junior who scored within the game’s first five minutes Monday, said he and his teammates gave the Greyhounds a fight, as CEC (8-5-1) continues its upward trend through previous frustrations within their squad.
“Our team chemistry was down — but we’ve learned to trust each other,” Pietsch said. “It’s anybody’s ball game. And as long as we play as a team, we can do just about anything.”
Anything can happen when Pietsch has the ball up front. The sure-footed speedster scores often, although forward mates and foreign-exchange students Richmond Seju, of Liberia, and Domenico Tomaselli, of Italy, lead the team in scoring.
“We’re pretty savvy in that front third — we’ve scored some goals,” said Coach Archie Clark, in his ninth season. “We can find ways to put the ball in the net.”
Netting crucial wins is something CEC has done plenty of lately. Sandwiched around their come-from-behind win over Grand Rapids, Clark’s crew also shut out Proctor two weeks ago and goalkeeper Halen Danielson — who’s played every game — then blanked Duluth Marshall a week later.
“That doesn’t happen, hardly ever,” a pleased Clark said. “I’ve been so proud of my team. We’re moving forward.”
Heading into the postseason already next week, Clark explained his high-octane team needs to stay tight to make a run at another wide-open race within the 15-team Section 7A. He noted senior captains Ben Vuicich, Alex DeRocher and Brandt Straub will be vital in igniting playoff-level leadership.
“All three have been through the war of winning a section title,” said Clark of their cooperative program’s sole state berth in 2011. “Teams will play harder. We have to be ready.”
“We just have to keep doing what we’re doing,” added Vuicich, a fourth-year varsity midfielder from Cloquet. “If we can compete with East, we can compete with a lot of teams.”
Especially now as a cohesive, mojo-moving team unit.
“We had a little individualism at the beginning of the year,” Esko senior DeRocher said, “but none of that anymore.”