Esko exhorts Hawks, falls in OTHermantown superstar Hailey Hoff’s 85th-minute goal got past the outstretched arms of Esko senior goalkeeper DeAhna Kulas en route to the Hawks’ 1-0 overtime win in a Section 7A girls soccer quarterfinal Saturday at Corey Veech Memorial Field in Hermantown.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
Esko senior goalkeeper DeAhna Kulas has played every minute of every game for the past two soccer seasons.
And she did everything she could to keep this year alive.
Hermantown superstar Hailey Hoff’s 85th-minute goal got past the outstretched arms of Kulas en route to the Hawks’ 1-0 overtime win in a Section 7A girls soccer quarterfinal Saturday at Corey Veech Memorial Field in Hermantown.
Kulas, who dove to her left as she watched the ball trickle by her fingertips, collapsed immediately afterward, laying on the grass until her goalie coach and father, Tim, hugged her.
“I saw [Hoff] coming, so I went out and the ball went in — it all happened so fast,” Kulas said. “We played so well and to get so close, it hurts. It was just very difficult.”
The ninth-seeded — yet scary — Eskomos made the day difficult for the top-ranked Hawks, much like they did in challenging 4-1 and 3-1 Hermantown wins earlier this season.
Saturday, first-year Esko Coach Jeff Emanuel explained his girls possessed the ball throughout the soggy, soaking field, as Kadee Karkkainen caromed several shots off the post.
Hoff, last year’s Duluth News Tribune Player of the Year, scored her Northland-leading 23rd goal Saturday when beating Kulas on a seeing-eye ball by the Hawks’ Alyssa Siljendahl.
“Hoff got behind our defense and she buried it,” Emanuel said of the skillful forward. “That’s just what she does.”
Hermantown now faces Duluth Denfeld for the 7A final tonight (Thursday, Oct. 17).
The Eskomos, which finished 7-9-2, did a lot this season. From traveling to the nearby Munger community for games and practices, to recently opening a new artificial turf stadium, senior captain Kailee Katt said they became a team.
“We had some differences, but we knew if we wanted to go far, we had to come together,” said Katt, a sweeper. “This was a hard loss, but we gave it our all. We came pretty close.”
“It was heartbreaking,” added Karkkainen, a senior, noting they had knocked out the Hawks all three years prior to Saturday. “I guess they just got the lucky bounce this year.”
Kulas bounced back six saves Saturday. The nifty netminder will be one of nine seniors to move on from Esko.
“We had a rollercoaster season, but I’m proud of every one of these girls,” Emanuel said. “They left it on the field.”
Much like Kulas, stretching out to save the soccer season.
“It feels like we should still have a game left,” Kulas said.
“Nothing is ever her fault — it’s our team’s fault,” said senior captain and midfielder Erika Shady of her classmate. “After a while, we all went over there and gave her a hug.”