October 20, 2023 at 1:36 p.m.
Vikings come up short in section championship game
North Branch 1, Duluth Denfeld 0
Ava Gerten scored with two minutes left in the first half, and it held up as the third-seeded Vikings beat the second-seeded Duluth Denfeld Hunters 1-0 in the semifinals of the Section 7AA playoffs Thursday, October 12 at Duluth Denfeld High School, sending the Viking on to the section final.
The Vikings were going into a heavy wind in the first half, and Denfeld controlled play. Late in the half, Sharlene Garcia-Velazquez distributed a pass through the back line in Hunter territory. Gerten received the ball as she ran behind the back line and beat the keeper one-on-one for the score and a 1-0 Viking lead going into halftime. The Vikings dominated play in the second half, generating several unsuccessful scoring opportunities and holding the Hunters to just one scoring opportunity, a free kick that bounced in the box and was thwarted by the Viking defense.
“The girls have been playing pretty good soccer,” said Viking head coach Josh Kopp. “It was demoralizing for them when we scored so late in the first half. We couldn’t have had a better goal at a better time. It would have made things a little easier if we had converted at least one of our multiple scoring chances in the second half, but we controlled play and came away with the win.”
Cloquet/Carlton 3, North Branch 0
The Vikings travelled to Cloquet this past Tuesday, October 17 for the section final, meeting the Cloquet/Carlton Lumberjacks for the first event of any kind on the Lumberjacks’ new turf field. Cloquet shut out the Vikings 3-0, ending the Vikings’ season one game short of the state tournament. Game details were not received in time for publication this week, but we will have a full report in next week’s Press.