CEC beats Marshall in OT for 7A boys soccer title
As fluky of a phantom goal as the overtime winner was in Thursday's Section 7A championship game, perhaps Jordan Tucker did have a hand in it. The former Cloquet-Esko- Carlton goalkeeper, who died in his sleep as a senior in 2008, was on the mind...
As fluky of a phantom goal as the overtime winner was in Thursday's Section 7A championship game, perhaps Jordan Tucker did have a hand in it.
The former Cloquet-Esko-
Carlton goalkeeper, who died in his sleep as a senior in 2008, was on the minds of Lumberjacks players after a 1-0 win over Duluth Marshall at Public Schools Stadium secured the program's first high school boys soccer state tournament berth.
Senior Landen Straub's centering attempt deflected off a Marshall defender and into the goal 43 seconds into the first overtime.
"I was just trying to get a cross off, and I really don't know what happened. But I don't really care because we're going to state," said Straub, who had a team-high 23 goals entering the game. "My goal for the season was to get 23 goals because (Jordan's) number was 23. We knew he was looking over us and helping us through every game. He was here tonight and got us through."
CEC (14-3-2) advances to the Class A state tournament next week. A coaches' vote Saturday morning will determine against whom, when and where the Lumberjacks will play their quarterfinal game, though it likely will be against a top-four seed.
The top-seeded Hilltoppers finished 13-5-1 -- two of their defeats coming to CEC in the past nine days. Coach Mike Sengbush was misty-eyed when discussing the fate of his senior-laden team.
"Those things happen," he said. "They were opportunistic and created enough of a chance. It went off one of our defenders, and Dougie, our goalie, had a chance to get a hand or two on it and ended up bobbling it and it slipped through."
CEC coach Archie Clark has seen many hard-fought even matches end that way.
"You always wish it could be a picturesque goal, but the truth is it doesn't always end that way," he said. "We were the beneficiary of a lucky bounce. That's about all the difference there was between these teams."
As soon as the awards presentation ended, CEC players chanted "Jordan Tucker, Jordan Tucker."
"Jordan was such a good friend to all these kids, and we still miss him to this day," Clark said. "We'll never forget him, and you just wish he could be here to enjoy it with us."
In some ways, he was. Players have worn a patch that says "In memory of 23 JT" since the 2009 season, and goalie Jarad Weeks, an Esko student like Tucker, wears the same blaze orange jersey color that Tucker favored and that Esko students wore on a weekly basis to honor their friend after he died.
"He's been looking over us the whole season," said Weeks, the junior varsity netminder in 2008 who warmed up before games with his predecessor.
Weeks stopped several hard shots in helping hand the Hilltoppers only their second shutout of the season.
"Jarad was as solid as a rock," Clark said.
A fitting tribute from the man in orange.
Duluth Marshall 0-0-0--0
First half -- No scoring.
Second half -- No scoring.
First overtime -- 1. CEC, own goal, 81st.
Goalies -- Jarad Weeks, CEC; Doug Lewis, DM.