Cloquet-Carlton goalie Gracie Meagher held off a barrage of second-half shots to help lift the Lumberjacks to 1-0 win over Duluth Marshall in the Section 7A championship game Wednesday, Oct. 21, at Public Schools Stadium in Duluth.
Meagher made nine saves — seven in the second half — to keep the Hilltoppers out of the net and preserve a second consecutive section title for the Lumberjacks.
“We were really aggressive on defense, I think that we cleared their chances very well,” Meagher said. “We were all just kind of on the same page, knowing that if the ball is coming back, we’ve got to get it up and out right away.”
Cloquet-Carlton junior Katie Turner got behind the Duluth Marshall defense to score the game’s only goal with about 10 minutes gone in the first half.
“Katie just battled with it to get that clear shot,” Cloquet-Carlton coach Bobbie Turner said. “It's something she hasn't really been looking to do as much this year. She's really been more setting up the plays. But tonight that was sort of the direction, ‘If you guys can work it out, work your way into there and get an open shot.’”
Duluth Marshall kept the pressure on the Lumberjacks throughout the night, but the Lumberjack defense responded and limited the quality of opportunities for the Hilltoppers.
“Cloquet is a good team, they just buzz and bring a lot of energy,” Marshall coach Nic Bacigalupo said. “We knew that for us to succeed, we were just going to have to create really good opportunities. We had possession, we had the ball a lot, we probably outshot them, but our opportunities weren't the great ones that we needed to get.”
Turner said the Lumberjacks were lucky to keep Marshall off the scoreboard, but concentrated on holding senior Maren Friday and her 24 goals in check. Likewise, the Hilltoppers concentrated on ensuring the quick counters from Turner and sophomore Alexa Snesrud could put the game out of reach after conceding the early goal.
“They played at least three back, no matter what and some of that, I’m sure, is by design,” Bobbie Turner said. “They know we’ve got a couple of girls that score the majority of our goals and they sort of tried to shut that down and we did the same thing with them. We knew where their goals were coming from and so we just made sure to put some focus on those guys.”
Even though there won’t be a state tournament this season, Meagher savored the win — her seventh shutout of the season.
“Our team, we’ve been so blessed,” Meagher said. “It's a reward from all of our hard work we put in, especially when we didn't even know if we were even going to have a regular season. Girls were still coming to the field every single day and dedicated and it really just showed here.”
Duluth Marshall 0-0—0
First half — 1. C, Katie Turner (Alexa Snesrud), 10th.
Second half — No scoring.
Saves — Natalie Welinski, DM, 2; Gracie Meagher, C, 9.