A 'Pietsch' of a victory

The Cloquet-Esko-Carlton boys soccer team extended its early-season winning streak to three games with a 1-0 win over Duluth Marshall on Tuesday afternoon.

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Cloquet-Esko-Carlton’s Ben Pietsch (2) leaps over Superior goalie Ethan Cooper (0) in the second half of the Lumberjacks’ game in Superior Aug. 25. Jed Carlson/

The Cloquet-Esko-Carlton boys soccer team extended its early-season winning streak to three games with a 1-0 win over Duluth Marshall on Tuesday afternoon.

Senior forward Ben Pietsch scored on a ninth-minute breakaway, tucking a shot into the corner of the net, and CEC made it stand up against one of the area’s best teams to earn the win.

“(Midfielder) Dalton Johnson made a nice pass to him and Ben finished,” Coach Archie Clark said. “The goalkeeper was flat-footed and Ben picked his spot.”

The ’Jacks (4-2-0) caught the Hilltoppers down in numbers for the game. Marshall dressed only 13 players for the match, leaving them with only two substitutes.

“It was a warm day and I think we ran [Marshall] out of gas,” Clark said.


Holding the talented Hilltoppers off the board was no easy task, but Clark said his team defended well as a unit. The team’s 3-5-2 alignment is designed to control possession and dominate the middle of the field - and it also gives Clark a chance to play a powerful trio of players in the heart of the field.

“Ryan Willgohs, Robbie Sobczak and Dalton Johnson all play in the center of our midfield, and to be honest I wouldn’t want to play against them,” Clark said. “They are all strong, all tough and they are all good on the ball in the central role.”

The team has been led by its three senior captains, none of which are from Cloquet. Pietsch is from Carlton and midfielder Logan Liimatainen and goalkeeper Halen Danielson are both from Esko. Danielson was in goal and kept a clean sheet against the Hilltoppers.

“Halen is an experienced goalkeeper and a great leader for us,” Clark said. “He made one great kick save against Marshall and you need that out of your goalkeeper to win games like that. Marshall was a skilled team and they held the ball quite a long time against us, but your goalkeeper has to make one or two saves like that to keep you in the game.”

The team’s season has been a gradual growth process. After a season-opening 3-0 loss to Rochester Lourdes, CEC defeated Superior 7-0, lost to Mounds View 2-0, and then has beaten Mesabi East 7-0, Denfeld 2-1 and now Marshall on the spin.

Clark was especially happy with the team’s 2-1 win over Denfeld last Friday at Public Schools Stadium.

“We played extremely well against Denfeld, but that wasn’t an indication of the game,” Clark said. “We are coming along nicely.”

“We controlled the whole game,” Clark added. “We played on turf and that was good. We played on grass [Tuesday] and didn’t control the whole game.”


As the season nears its midpoint, Clark is looking for his team to show better conditioning.

“I think we still have to get in just a bit better shape, and when the weather cools down that will help,” he said. “We’re going very hard in practice and the (undefeated) junior varsity is really pushing them.” (Coach Brock Anderson’s Cloquet’s JV defeated Marshall 12-1 on Tuesday.)

With games against section favorite Hermantown, Ashland and Chisago Lakes on the immediate horizon, Clark knows things are not going to get any easier - yet he’s happy with his team so far.

“At this stage of the season, I’m pretty happy,” he said.  “The guys are feeding off each other, working very hard in practice and not dogging it.  I really appreciate that - I want them going hard. We’ve got to get these kids toughened up before the playoffs start.”



Cloquet-Carlton (1-2) couldn't keep up with the Academy of Holy Angels last Saturday, as the host Lumberjacks lost in a 3-0 non-conference shutout. Cloquet goalkeeper Ali Chalberg saved 14 of 17 shots, as the Lumberjacks' lone win remains over rival Esko.

Esko (0-4) endured another loss Tuesday, as the Eskomos were edged by host Hibbing-Chisholm 3-2 in a non-conference defeat. The Eskomos, outscored 15-4 and still winless in 2014, earned goals via Jordyn Selin and Kalee Monahan, both assisted by Ava Gonsorowski.

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