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Prep boys soccer: CEC boasts stellar goalkeeping duo

Senior Lucas Rauner and junior Walker Marquardt have been a fixture in net for the Lumberjacks over the past three seasons as the team's starting goalkeepers.

Goalkeeper dives for a save
CEC junior goalkeeper Walker Marquardt dives for a save during warmups ahead of the Lumberjacks' match against Superior on Tuesday, Sept. 20, at NBC Sports Complex in Superior.
Jake Przytarski / Cloquet Pine Journal
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CLOQUET — Over the past three seasons, Cloquet-Esko-Carlton senior Lucas Rauner and junior Walker Marquardt have helped guide the program to unprecedented success as the Lumberjacks' goal-keeping tandem.

The duo has provided the team with a level of dependability in net that can best be described as a luxury, according to CEC head coach John Sundquist.

“I mean it’s unbelievable,” Sundquist said. “The way they push each other at practice, (and) just having the luxury of not even worrying about who’s in the net or like any sort of shot that’s coming over. You’re not going to let a bad goal in with those two. It’s unbelievably nice.”

Rauner received his first crack at the varsity level as a freshman during the 2019 season. The following year, the ‘Jacks earned their historic first win over rival powerhouse Duluth East with Rauner in net. CEC went on to breeze through the regular season with an unblemished record before ultimately falling in a 1-0 heart-breaker to Duluth Denfeld in the section tournament.

Goalie holds foot on ball
CEC senior goalkeeper Lucas Rauner holds the ball still with his foot during warmups prior to a match against Superior on Tuesday, Sept. 20, at NBC Sports Complex in Superior.
Jake Przytarski / Cloquet Pine Journal

For Rauner, the choice to become a goalkeeper as a youth player came out of necessity and has stuck ever since.

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“Back in the day, I wasn’t very good at playing out, so I made the mandatory switch at that point,” Rauner said with a smile.

Viewing the various position players on the field as pieces on the chess board, Rauner said the strategy involved with playing goalkeeper is the most enjoyable part.

“Definitely the mental aspect,” Rauner said. “It’s like a little chess game back there — moving your defensive pieces around against the attacking pieces.”

The path to becoming a goalkeeper for Marquardt was a bit different than that of his teammate. The junior Lumberjack saw his first varsity action as a freshman in 2020, and seemed destined to play the position long before that after following in the footsteps of a long line of family members who played the position as well.

Cloquet-Esko-Carlton goalie Lucas Rauner (00) stops a Proctor shot
Cloquet-Esko-Carlton goalie Lucas Rauner (00) stops a Proctor shot in the second half of the Lumberjack win at Egerdahl Field in Proctor on Thursday, Aug. 25.
Jed Carlson / File / Superior Telegram

“It was like a family thing. My uncle played. My mom played. My dad played. It just kind of came through it all — just from everybody,” Marquardt said. “I remember going back — since I was 8, I’ve been playing goalkeeper, so it’s just been pretty much my whole life type thing.”

Marquardt and Rauner remain competitive in their quest to earn the starting nod, though that doesn’t stop either of them from helping one another during practice and before games to put the team in the best position to win.

“Even in our warmups out here, one of us will be back behind the net or to the side and we’ll work on our angles with each other,” Marquardt said. “Just like the little things, we just try to make each other better.”

Similar to last season, the ‘Jacks will turn to one of the two when it comes time for the postseason, as Sundquist intends to go with the hot hand down the stretch. During the team’s state tournament run in 2021, Rauner emerged as the starter during the section tournament and into their quarterfinal loss to Mahtomedi.

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CEC will play six more regular season games before Sundquist will ultimately decide who will take over during sections in the team's quest for a repeat trip to the state tournament.

MORE FROM JAKE PRZYTARSKI:
The Harley Davidson-themed restaurant officially opened its doors Aug. 11 to the Cloquet community.

Jake Przytarski is a reporter for the Cloquet Pine Journal covering a mix of news and sports.
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