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Goalkeeper, defense star in Esko win over 'Jacks

Cloquet's Natalie Hoffman (left) and Esko's Davrianna Horvath compete for a loose ball during Tuesday night's soccer match in Esko. Dave Harwig/Pine Journal1 / 3
Esko defender Elise Lund steals the ball from Cloquet's Mackenzie Brummer during Tuesday night's soccer match in Esko. Dave Harwig/Pine Journal2 / 3
Esko's Macy Sunnarborg makes a save late in the second half, preserving the Eskomos' 1-0 shutout win over Cloquet, during Tuesday night's soccer match. Dave Harwig/Pine Journal3 / 3

Goalkeeper Macy Sunnarborg and the Esko girls soccer team slammed the door on a potent Cloquet-Carlton offense and then used just enough offense to gain an impressive 1-0 win at home on Tuesday night.

"Cloquet comes in with a lot of speed, but our defenders were able to contain, play patiently and not over commit," said Esko coach Nicki Peterson. "Offensively, when we won the ball we were required to transition quickly to create some scoring chances."

The Eskomos had to withstand constant pressure by Cloquet-Carlton which brought high tempo to the game and put 34 shots on Sunnarborg, but Sunnarborg turned aside every shot and got some strong help on the back line.

"It was very much a typical Cloquet versus Esko game," said Cloquet-Carlton coach Dustin Randall. "They are never easy. I thought we had the majority of good scoring chances, but Macy is a top keeper in the area and she played very poised and confident."

Coming into the game, the Eskomos knew they would have to deal with a Cloquet-Carlton offensive attack led by Kendra Kelley, who had six goals in two games coming into the contest on Tuesday night.

"We were able to shut out Cloquet with a stellar performance by Macy," Peterson said. "She came up with some great saves when we needed them and didn't give up rebounds. We also had a solid game from our veteran center backs Tori Vosberg and Kaytlyn Bergerson. We were patient on defensive collectively and did not over commit."

The only goal of the game came 20 minutes into the second half when Kristy DeMuth, Esko's center midfielder, managed to come up with the ball on a turnover and knock a 30-yard lob into the net, giving the Eskomos a 1-0 lead which they never relinquished.

Despite the loss, Lumberjack coach Randall thought his team played well for most of the game.

"Overall I feel we played well for most of the game, but certainly we have areas to improve," explained Randall. "I don't think we played with the intensity we needed to for 80 minutes."

Cloquet is also missing veteran defender Lexi Cooke, who tore her ACL during summer soccer and will miss the entire season.

The win improves Esko's overall record to 2-0, while the loss drops Cloquet-Carlton to 2-1 on the season.

"I was pleasantly surprised with the performance of our first-time varsity players," Peterson said. "We graduated 11 seniors last year and are returning seven. The inexperienced varsity players were able to keep up with the speed of play with skill and composure."

Both teams will be home on Thursday, Aug. 31, with Esko hosting Princeton and the Lumberjacks hosting Chisago Lakes.