Baker, Lumberjacks run past EskoKayla Baker scored two second-half goals Thursday, as the speedy forward helped lift the Lumberjacks by neighboring rival Esko 3-0 in a prep girls soccer shutout victory at a soft, spongy, muddy Bromberg Field in Cloquet.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
Kayla Baker didn’t let the weather slow her down last Thursday.
Baker scored two second-half goals Thursday, as the speedy forward helped lift the Lumberjacks by neighboring rival Esko 3-0 in a prep girls soccer shutout victory at a soft, spongy, muddy Bromberg Field in Cloquet.
Baker, a 5-foot-4 Cloquet sophomore, has been playing soccer since age 5. Also a member of the girls hockey team and sprinter on the track team, Baker was born to be quick.
“Yeah,” Baker admitted. “I remember when I was little, just running all over the field.”
She did the same last week. Despite the damp weather and sinking temperatures throughout the night, Baker beat Esko goalie DeAhna Kulas in the 48th and 80th minutes.
“She’s starting to find her rhythm and put the ball in the net,” said Cloquet-Carlton Coach Dustin Randall, whose team hasn’t lost yet in October. “She’s just plain faster than anybody on the field — it’s difficult to keep up with her.”
That’s what Esko Coach Jeff Emanuel said happened last week, when the Lumberjacks (6-9-1) got through the midfield and found Baker, one of team’s leading scorers.
“She’s a finisher,” Emanuel said of Baker. “They outworked us in the middle and got the ball up the field.”
Cloquet-Carlton’s first goal last week was fielded by Cloquet senior midfielder Becca Hammond in the 27th minute. Hammond, a fourth-year varsity player, and high-scoring classmate Maija Doran each assisted to Baker, too.
Senior goalkeeper Emily Conner, meanwhile, made seven saves in her third shutout of the up-and-down season.
“We started really slow and it was hard to get going,” Hammond said of her team, which lost their first four games of a loaded schedule. “But we’ve grown a lot stronger in our friendships and as teammates, and it’s beginning to show.”
The No. 5 Lumberjacks enter the Section 7A playoffs hosting Two Harbors today, Oct. 10, at 4:30 p.m. at Bromberg Field.
As the Lumberjacks seek to repeat as section champions, Emanuel said it’s “anybody’s ball game,” including his No. 9 Eskomos (6-8-2), who travel to Zimmerman for a 6 p.m. opening round matchup.
But if comes down to speed, expect Baker and the surging Lumberjacks to be atop that list of candidates.
“She’s got good foot skills, a good shot and is a team player,” Hammond said of Baker, “and she’s crazy fast.”
“It’s my role,” Baker said of running hard. “But my teammates set me up. No way could I do this on my own.”