Cloquet girls soccer is ready to repeat - or top - last year's success
CLOQUET - If there's one fall sport in Cloquet that most everyone is raving about, you can bet it's girls soccer. After all, they are the town's most-recent dynasty. For roughly the past decade, the Lumberjacks have nearly ruled the girls soccer ...
CLOQUET - If there's one fall sport in Cloquet that most everyone is raving about, you can bet it's girls soccer.
After all, they are the town's most-recent dynasty.
For roughly the past decade, the Lumberjacks have nearly ruled the girls soccer world in the Northland, and last year's historic season was nothing short of impressive.
Monday morning, the 'Jacks were back on the pitch, looking as good as ever.
"We had a lot of fun last year," said second-year head coach Dustin Randall during tryouts. "And I think there's that excitement to get back out here."
A grand total of 51 girls in grades 7-12 attended Monday's tryouts at Hilltop Park. Tryouts ended mid-week and now the focus is shifted to the season.
Cloquet's magical run included a Lake Superior Conference title, the Section 7A crown and a school-best two wins at state, including their third-place finish at State was the school's highest, matching 2002.
This fall, however, will look a little different.
Having graduated 10 seniors from a year ago, including nine starters, the 'Jacks will have some fresh faces in their lineup, but no shortage of good players.
"We'll have to re-tool a little bit and it might take a few games," said Randall, "but I think they're ready. It's a whole new group coming in, but really, they've had that success too in JV. They're experienced, too."
Heading Cloquet's returning cast this fall are a pair of seniors in midfielder Jessie Ryan, who was last year's leading scorer, and shutdown goalkeeper Kaitrin Rathe. The pair of lone returning starters both played huge roles in last season's state run, while new juniors and sophomores are showing strides, too.
"Playing in the dome was amazing, I sure hope we get back there," said Ryan. "We have a new team here which makes me a little nervous, but we're all pretty excited."
Following a handful of saves during practice Monday, Rathe felt the same.
"It's fun to get going out here again," she said. "We lost some players and I think it will take us a couple games to group together, but we'll get there."
Will they repeat last year's success?
"We want to get farther than we did last year," Rathe said with a smile.
Cloquet will host a scrimmage at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 24, at Hilltop Park against Northfield and will welcome Rosemount in the season-opener at 1 p.m. Friday, Aug. 27, on Bromberg Field.
The 'Jacks will then follow with a must-see rivalry clash against Esko-Carlton on Aug. 31 at home, in a rematch of last year's Section 7A championship bout.