> "I think a penalty shootout is the hardest way to lose in sports," Clark said. "There's just nothing you can say when your whole season comes down to one kick of a ball."
The team loses Zoe Klimek and Jayda Woller to graduation in addition to Martin and Borske, and will have only one senior next season according to the current roster. "We'll still be young," Johnson said. "We knew we would take some lumps having sophomores gaining experience at the first two singles positions, but we will be better for it in the long run." <
"I feel we did not play up to our potential in those games. It was a fun match between the schools, with lots of long volleys and, to be honest, in the end we didn't step up to the plate."
"[Cloquet-Carlton was] strong, accurate and their first four shots went into our net," she said. "They were relentless, but I am very proud, as a coach, of the way our girls responded when they were down six goals." Esko has gone 1-5-3 since a 5-1-0 start, but Peterson says her team is ready for the playoffs.
> Duluth East's powerful team nearly swept the board in Class AA girls' competition, with team score of 23. Fifteen is a perfect team score in cross-country, occurring when a team's top five runners finish in the top five places.
"It's not fun to lose, but we want to be better at the end," she said. "We have moments of greatness, great play, and then we drop to 'not.'"<
"We were always hoping to get off to a good start," Arntson said. "Each game we have done pretty well at the start but haven't always translated that into points."
Johnson points to attitude as a key to improvement and is very impressed by the commitment the players have shown to learning their craft. "We know it's going to be hard in the short term, but in a couple of years those girls will be the ones beating up on other teams," Johnson said. "Right now, though, it's a matter of simply getting better one day at a time." <
"We've finished first or second in the conference over the last few years and we've had a top-half section seed as well, so there's no reason to think those goals are unrealistic for this season too," he said. "But this is a strong section we're in, so we can't take anything for granted or take anyone lightly."
Cloquet used ball pressure all over the field to harass Hibbing-Chilholm's defenders into mistakes and, over time, wore them down and finally out. Andy Acers was the star of the show in the team's biggest victory to date, a 3-1 triumph over arch-rival Hermantown in Cloquet on Friday. Despite trailing 1-0 at halftime, Cloquet won going away as Acers scored a hat trick in the second half including goals two minutes apart.