10/24/2019 3:10:00 PM Defensive meltdown comes at the wrong time, ending CL's season
When Estefani Hanson scored with 1:26 to go in the game to break a 1-1 tie with the Cloquet-Carlton Lumberjacks in the Section 7A championship game, it looked like the top-seeded Wildcat girls’ soccer team was headed to the state tournament for the second time in school history. But just over 30 seconds later, the Wildcats committed a foul in their box and Cloquet converted the penalty kick, tying the game with 52 seconds to go. The Lumberjacks scored with 6:35 left in the in the second sudden victory overtime period to win the game 3-2 and claim the section championship. The loss ended an excellent season for the Wildcats just one game short of the state tournament. The game was played at North Branch High School Thursday, October 17.
Cloquet had its best scoring chances in the first five minutes, shooting one wide and one over the net. But the Wildcats mostly controlled the ball for the game’s first 20 minutes, passing the ball around and attacking with through balls. In the eighth minute, Rayna Barrett played the ball from her own end of the field over the defense toward the right corner. Riann Daas ran onto it, freed herself from the defender and sent it across to the Alyssa Hempel in the left hand side of the box. Hempel shot the ball past the goalkeeper and inside the left post to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead.
In the 22nd minute, Cloquet put a free kick into the Wildcat box. A Lumberjack striker controlled the ball and shot, but a Wildcat defender blocked it. In the 25th minute, Cloquet got the ball deep in the left side of the box. Wildcat goalkeeper Dylan Grave came out to confront the shooter and blocked the shot. The rebound was sent just wide of the right post and the score stayed at 1-0.
Shortly thereafter, a low goal kick by the Wildcats was blocked. A quick shot was knocked away and over the end line by the Wildcats. The Cloquet player tried to bend the corner kick into the net, but Grave made the save. Cloquet put on a lot more pressure the last six to eight minutes, but the Wildcats handled it well and the score stayed 1-0 at the half.
Cloquet dominated much of the second half. In the 48th minute, Grave had to make a diving save. The Wildcats counter-attacked, got the ball around the goalie and shot, but a Cloquet defender knocked it away. In the 59th minute, Grave came way out beyond the 18 to beat a Lumberjack player to the ball and safely booted it out of bounds. In the 64th minute, the Wildcats played a ball over the defensive line. Daas ran onto it, but pushed the ball a little bit too far in front and the keeper scooped it up. In the 67th minute, Coquet’s Katie Turner got a hold of the ball and ball shot from the right side about 25-30 feet out. The ball sailed over Grave’s head and under the crossbar to tie the game at 1-1. As the game wore on, it looked like it might be headed to overtime. But with under two minutes left, Cloquet committed a foul along the right sideline midway in the Wildcat end. Avery Constant put the ball down quickly and chipped the free kick over the Lumberjack defensive line deep into the right corner. Daas ran onto it, freed herself up and sent it to Estefani Hanson in the middle of the box. Hanson fired it into the goal and the Wildcats led 2-1 with 1:26 left in the second half.
The euphoria over the apparent state tournament appearance was short-lived. Following the kickoff, Cloquet moved the ball downfield into the Wildcat box. A Wildcat player made what look like clean shoulder-to-shoulder contact and, as the Cloquet player fell down, knocked the ball over the end line. But the referee deemed the shoulder-to-shoulder contact to be illegal and awarded the Lumberjacks a penalty kick. Madi Vermeersch shot it low and to the left. Grave dove, but the ball got past her and into the back of the net to tie the game at 2-2 with 52 seconds left in the game. The Wildcats got the ball down into the Cloquet end and earned a corner kick with 30 seconds left and the clock ticking. They launched the ball into the middle of the box. The ball bounced around and was knocked away, and time ran out a few seconds later. They were headed to sudden victory overtime. The next goal – the “golden goal” – would win the game.
The Wildcats played well in the first ten-minute overtime, but didn’t really get off any dangerous shots. Neither did Cloquet, and the teams headed to the second ten-minute overtime. Early in the second overtime, the Lumberjacks played the ball down the left sideline, then toward the box. Grave came out to challenge the Cloquet player charging at it. They got there at the same time and the ball rolled away. Cloquet’s Olivia Jameson player ran onto the ball and knocked it into the open net with 6:48 left in the second overtime, giving the Lumberjacks a 3-2 win and a trip to the state tournament.
Wildcat head coach Wayne Kugel said “It was a true championship level match. It’s what we live for. There can be only one victor. Excellent soccer was played by both teams. We congratulate Cloquet and wish them luck in the state tournament. It was a magical year with a mountain of memories that will be remembered for a lifetime. Our seniors led the way by being amazing role models for our younger players while etching a permanent place in our hearts. Our program will forever be better because of them.”
Soccer Stuff Senior Kellie Higgins made first team all-state and the all-metro team. Senior Riann Daas made second team all-state.