Prep boys soccer: 'Jacks survive late push by Spartans
Senior forward Jordan Aultman's tally at the 15-minute mark of the first half stood as the game-winner for Cloquet-Esko-Carlton.
SUPERIOR — A gutsy effort on the part of host Superior pushed the red-hot Lumberjacks to the brink Tuesday, Sept. 20, in a tightly-contested Lake Superior Conference match-up.
Senior forward Jordan Aultman’s tally at the 15-minute mark of the opening half ultimately stood as the game-winner for Cloquet-Esko-Carlton in a 2-1 final at NBC Sports Complex.
Since falling in a pair one-goal matches to Columbia Heights and defending AAA state champion Mounds View in late August, the Lumberjacks have now rattled off seven straight wins in the month of September to post an overall record of 8-2.
Over that span, CEC coach John Sundquist said the club has been experimenting with different strategies to develop its best fit.
“We had a little bit of a change where we got a little bit too over the top for awhile. Then we tried to play it short and (then) out wide for awhile,” Sundquist said. “So we’re trying to see what works and then just trying to incorporate everything.”
The loss for the Spartans drops them to 4-4-2 on the season. In spite of the end result, coach Otto Berti said there’s plenty of positives to take away from their performance on Tuesday.
“I think that was our best game of the year,” Berti said. “We’ve been like a first half team or a second half team all year long, and had good spurts here and there, but I think that was probably our best complete game. And we had to bring it against a good team like Cloquet.”
The two teams faced a 30-minute lightning delay prior to the opening kick-off, but the brief lull did little to slow down the Lumberjacks, who broke through with a goal five minutes into the match.
Junior forward Elijah Aultman used his game-breaking speed and ball skills to draw a penalty kick after getting tripped up by a Spartan defender with only the Superior goalkeeper left to beat. Joe Bailey took the penalty kick for Aultman and capitalized to give the ‘Jacks a quick 1-0 lead.
Ten minutes elapsed before Jordan Aultman extended CEC’s lead to 2-0 with a short-range goal from Max Sundquist, who launched an over 20-yard throw-in right on to the waiting foot of Aultman for the assist.
Coach Sundquist said Tuesday’s goal was not the first time the two have been linked on the score sheet.
“(Max Sundquist) has been working on that for a couple of years, and I believe that’s him and Jordan’s third goal now as a combo,” Sundquist said. “I mean Jordan knows it’s coming, and Max can get it to him. Jordan’s a pretty good athlete, so you put it in the area and good things will happen.”
With their backs against the wall, the Spartans began applying pressure on CEC goalkeeper Walker Marquardt with multiple scoring chances before being rewarded at the 18-minute mark. Superior junior Eli Benson got his club on the board with a booming free-kick that sailed over the outstretched arms of Marquardt and into the upper-left corner of the net.
The 2-1 score stood into halftime and all the way to the final horn as goalkeepers Marquardt and Superior’s Caden Holden traded key saves in the face of an onslaught of scoring chances. Marquardt went on to finish with six saves for the match, while Holden stopped nine shot for the Spartans.
The Lumberjacks will return to their home field Saturday, Sept. 24, when they host Princeton for an 11 a.m. match. Superior will host New Richmond for its next contest on Friday, Sept. 23.