Wins and losses sometimes don't tell the entire story of how a team is playing. Such is the case with the Esko girls soccer team, which started the season with five wins in six games, but then hit a stretch on their schedule where they have gone 0-3-3 against some of the best competition in the area and state.
"On paper we obviously have had more losses over the past six games," said Esko coach Nicki Peterson. "Overall we've slowly been making progress and we continue to improve."
The Eskomos have faced the likes of Hermantown, Chisago Lakes, Two Harbors, Duluth Marshall, Benilde-St. Margaret's and Duluth East.
"Benilde-St. Margaret's is the best team we've seen all season," said Peterson. "The thing that has been impressive is we haven't been out of any game all season. Against Duluth East and Benilde, they are so strong that they don't allow your offense to get into any type of rhythm, so we haven't been able to work on our offense in games. The nice thing is that good teams expose things you need to work on so we are trying to clean up some mistakes and learn from them in the future."
On Saturday, Benilde-St. Margaret's beat Esko 3-0 but the Red Knights did not score a goal in the first half. The same thing happened Monday night in the Duluth East 2-0 victory over Esko.
"Against the good teams, you work on keeping your defensive form and then striking back in a quick transition game against them," explained Peterson. "These games also have forced us to deepen our bench and that can only help us at the end of the season and in the playoffs."
Esko will continue a difficult finish to their schedule against Hermantown Thursday and then wrap up next week against Duluth Denfeld and Cloquet-Carlton.
"I love our schedule and having this tough a schedule does not allow us to get lazy," Peterson said. "The schedule teaches us to be patient and it teaches our players how important good, solid defense is."