October 16, 2014 at 11:11 a.m.
With the game tied 1-1 and 90 seconds remaining in the first overtime in Tuesday night’s Section 7A semifinal game, a Wildcat defender tripped a Cloquet player in the Wildcat 18 yard box. Fifth-seeded Cloquet was awarded a penalty kick. Senior Dalton Johnson was chosen to take the kick. Johnson ripped a shot into towards the upper right corner of the net. Wildcat senior goalkeeper Ian Lawlor leaped and nearly got a hand on it, but the ball went into that upper corner to give the Lumberjacks a Golden Goal and a 2-1 win over the Wildcats. The win for Cloquet sent them on to tonight’s section championship game against second-seeded Monticello at Chisago Lakes High School. The loss ended the season for the top-seeded Wildcats.
The Wildcats controlled play in the game, keeping the ball in the Cloquet end more than 75 percent of the time. Despite this, they didn’t generate any serious scoring opportunities. The Wildcats’ only goal came almost exactly halfway through the first half. Nick Pautz had the ball in the left corner of the Lumberjack zone and passed it to the top of the 18 yard box. The ball bounced around a little before Joey Dutcher corralled it and sent a one bouncer towards the left side of the net. It looked like it would be an easy save for the Cloquet goalkeeper, but the ball slipped though his hands and inside the left post to put the Wildcats up 1-0.
The Wildcat defense got a little sloppy a couple of minutes later, allowing a couple of decent shots including one from the right side of the box that went just wide of the left post. With two minutes left in the half, Cloquet lofted a free kick from about 30 yards out on the right side. The ball was headed towards the middle of the Wildcat penalty are. Lawlor ascended high out of a glob of players from both teams and punched the ball away emphatically to deny the Cloquet scoring opportunity.
The Lumberjacks took the opening kickoff of the second half and sprinted into the Wildcat zone. They ripped a shot from the right side and Lawlor had to make a nice diving save to protect the Wildcats’ slim 1-0 lead. Midway through the second half, Lawlor reacted quickly on a shot from just eight yards out. It looked like he anticipated the shot, jumping before the ball was struck. The ball hit his right hand and bounced harmlessly away.
Cloquet finally got on the board with 18 minutes left in regulation. Cloquet played a through ball to forward Nolan Ripp and Lawlor came out to challenge him. Ripp was able to roll the ball past Lawlor and inside the right post to tie the game at 1-1 and set the stage for Johnson’s overtime heroics.
Section Quarterfinals: Chisago Lakes 5, Grand Rapids 0
The top-seeded Wildcats scored once in the first half and four times in the second half to shut out eighth-seeded Grand Rapids 5-0 in a Section 7A quarterfinal game last Saturday, October 11 at Chisago Lakes. The loss knocked Grand Rapids out of the playoffs and sent the Wildcats on to the section semifinals (described above).
Nick Pautz scored midway through the first half, assisted by his brother Zack, to put the Wildcats up 1-0. Miles Peterson, Zack Pautz, Joey Dutcher and one other player scored second half goals. Pautz’s goal came on a penalty kick. Aidan Tollefson assisted on Peterson’s goal and Peter Wilson picked up an assist on the game’s final goal.