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Boys soccer Jamboree christens Public Schools Stadium turf with show of parity

Welcome to the world of boys high school soccer. *Two weeks ago, Jason Weber was back home in Elk River, taking a ceremonial drink out of the Stanley Cup, which was in the one-day possession of Dan Hinote, his neighbor. Now he is returning to be ...

Welcome to the world of boys high school soccer.
*Two weeks ago, Jason Weber was back home in Elk River, taking a ceremonial drink out of the Stanley Cup, which was in the one-day possession of Dan Hinote, his neighbor. Now he is returning to be a student at UMD, and he's also the hastily hired coach of the Marshall boys high school soccer team, where he got his first look at the Hilltoppers opposition during Monday's Jamboree.
* Allen Raushel is only a sophomore at Cloquet, but he started every game in goal for the Lumberjacks for the last two years, and he also tended the goal during the Jamboree, which christened the new Public Schools Stadium. He's moving out to play stopper, but he moved back into the nets for a spectacular job because new goaltender John Gust was on a family vacation.
* Ryan Kern has been so busy promoting this weekend's air show, featuring the Blue Angels, that he hasn't been able to conduct a full practice regimen as coach of Duluth Central. But the Trojans played powerful Proctor to a 0-0 standoff at the Jamboree.
* Cloquet had its strongest team in years last season, and now the Lumberjacks have lost 10 seniors and have a new and youthful look, while Proctor steps up with what appears, on paper, to be the heir-apparent to Cloquet's boys soccer throne.
* Matt Whittaker was one of Marshall's top players last year at center-midfield, but he's had to forego his scoring potential to drop back to sweeper this year with the 'Toppers youthful defense. But Whittaker stepped up to score to give Marshall a 1-0 victory over Two Harbors in the Jamboree. Not only was it the first goal ever scored in any sport at the new PSS, it was the only goal scored during four games at the inaugural event.
Whittaker moved to the middle and took a little drop pass from freshman Scott Kozlak, then ripped a quick, left-footed shot off the right post and in to give Marshall its 1-0 victory.
"We didn't have many shots, and not many chances to score," Whittaker said. "I was faking a play, just to try to get the other team shaking, and Kozlak left the ball for me. I'm right-handed, but I one-timed my shot with my left foot. This turf is really nice: The ball moves on it quickly, and it's much more predictable than grass."
Weber, the youthful-looking coach of the Toppers, said: "I moved Matt back because he's kind of a leader on this team. He's a guy the younger kids all look up to."
And with a squad that lost 13 seniors from last season, leadership is extra important. For Weber, who assisted with Marshall's girls soccer team last year, and coached the under-17 girls during the summer, being named coach is part of a whirlwind from the last two weeks. Festus Addo-Yobo, the popular Marshall coach, decided to not return because of knee problems.
"I found out I was coaching when they offered me the chance on Aug. 6, and I started the 13th," Weber said. "I'm a student at UMD, and I don't even know who we play. I was back home in Elk River, with no idea this was coming. I got to drink out of the Stanley Cup when Danny Hinote had it. I got Chad Kreuser, a friend of mine from Elk River, and Peter Gerdes, from Bloomington Kennedy, to help as assistant coaches. We figured we'd play a control game, with some passing and dribbling. We're young, and we're not very big, but I think we'll be pretty good."
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Weber learned something about his team's grit from the Jamboree's first game, to say nothing of his team's opponents.
Next out on the turf for two 20-minute halves, Denfeld and Superior battled to their 0-0 standoff. "Superior has a lot of seniors, and we only have five of them, so I was pretty happy with the way we played," said Denfeld coach Scott Anderson, who is in his seventh year. "We've got some guys, like Joe Olson, and Josh Bellamy, and I think we'll be OK. Proctor should be the favorite, I think."
Proctor, with some members of its talented squad gaining experience with the strong Gitchee Gummi summer team, was battled to a scoreless standoff by Central.
"Central didn't surprise me, they're always tough," said Glen Sorenson, Proctor coach. "Every game is tough up here, and we might have been a little tired because we scrimmaged Maple Grove this morning, then came out here to play Central."
Central coach Kern said: "We canceled our Friday game against Marshall, because we got rained out of two practices, and my schedule has been so crazy, with the air show. Our first game will be next week on Thursday against Hermantown. We have all our forwards and midfielders back, but we're very young in goal and on defense. We'll build our defense around Elliott Young and Ted Simmons. We've got a lot of work to do, but from what I saw, I think we'll be pretty competitive."
Cloquet coach Josh Friday sent Raushel, his old, reliable sophomore, into the nets, and it paid off in the 0-0 tie against a strong Hermantown outfit. Late in the second half, Hermantown's Jared Sandstrom was sprung with a long pass up the right side. Sandstrom raced up the right side and fired a shot past Raushel, but it hit the left post and caromed away. Moments later, Joe Idziorek got loose on the left side and fired a shot. The shot was blocked, but the ball popped up and was settling into the goal for the game-winner, when Raushel whirled and reached back, scooping the ball back.
Officials said the ball was right on the goal line, but it has to be completely over the line to count.
"Allen not only started every game for us as an eighth-grader and a ninth-grader, but he's always been among the statistical leaders," said Friday. "We think John Gust can do the job in goal this year, and Raushel is such a great athlete, we think we can play him at stopper and it will help us more, because we're playing four new defenders.
"We lost 10 seniors, and another player is out because of surgery. So we've only got three seniors this year. Last year, we were 14-2, but we were only seeded fifth in the sectional. I think Proctor looks like the strongest team, on paper, but there's a lot of parity and soccer keeps improving up here, which is great for the area. As our competition rises, maybe we won't get downgraded by the Twin Cities teams when it comes to seeding."
As for the new artificial turf at Public Schools Stadium, the players were enthusiastic about the blades of polyurethane grass over a bed of tiny ground-up rubber tire particles. The only criticism came from a couple of players who fell to the turf in heavy action, and were surprised to wind up with a few tiny rubber particles in their mouths.

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