Esko senior Kristy DeMuth broke away for a goal early in the second half to tie Hermantown, but a goal with just five minutes remaining allowed the Hawks to escape with a 2-1 home win Thursday, Sept. 26.

Esko’s defense held Hermantown scoreless in the first half, but senior Megan Madill scored in the 43rd minute and again in the 75th to secure the win for the Hawks.

DeMuth got behind the Hawk defense just five minutes after Madill’s first strike to tie the game, but despite a number of other chances, the Eskomos couldn’t get another shot past the Hermantown goalie.

As Esko gears up for the end of the regular, Co-Coaches Nicole Peterson and Alissa Anderson are happy with where the team is heading into the Section 7A tournament.

“I think one of the things we’ve done well is defend as a team, which has held us in quite a few games, especially over this last week,” Peterson said. “We’ve played pretty heavy competition and I think our team defense has worked for us to keep us in some games.”

Peterson said the play of sophomore goalie Orie Randall has consistently improved since the beginning of the season. Randall ended the game with nine saves.

The team has some work to do offensively to generate more goals, however. In eight games this season — all losses — the team has managed one goal or less.

To generate more chances, the team needs to do what it does well and not let opponents dictate the way the game is played, according to Anderson.

Esko senior Tori Vosburg tries to split the defenders during the Eskomos' 2-1 loss to Hermantown on Thursday, Sept. 26. Jamey Malcomb/Pine Journal
Esko senior Tori Vosburg tries to split the defenders during the Eskomos' 2-1 loss to Hermantown on Thursday, Sept. 26. Jamey Malcomb/Pine Journal

“I think we had our best offensive opportunities when our girls settled the ball down, played on the ground and made runs on the ball — so there were numbers around the ball,” Anderson said. “Sometimes when we play against a team that’s more of a direct team — that plays a lot of long balls — we get caught doing the same thing and it takes us off our game.”

Esko has just a handful of seniors, so experience in the section tournament is limited, but Peterson expects them to perform well.

“A lot of our team is new,” Peterson said. “So it will be interesting to see how some of our underclassmen have stepped up quite a bit rise to the challenge of the playoffs. I think there is a different focus and intensity that comes in the postseason when you’re in a one-and-done type of situation.”

Esko (5-8) is scheduled to finish the regular season against Cloquet-Carlton at 4:45 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3.

Esko 0-1—1

Hermantown 0-2—2

First half — No scoring.

Second half — 1. H, Megan Madill, 43rd; 2. E, Kristy DeMuth, 48th; 3. H, Madill, 75th.

Saves — Orie Randall, E, 9.

Esko sophomore Emily Rengo tries to control the ball during a 2-1 loss to Hermantown Thursday, Sept. 26. Jamey Malcomb/Pine Journal
Esko sophomore Emily Rengo tries to control the ball during a 2-1 loss to Hermantown Thursday, Sept. 26. Jamey Malcomb/Pine Journal