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CEC boys lose in 7A soccer title game

LINDSTROM, Minn. -- Cloquet-Esko-Carlton senior Dalton Johnson drilled a shot on net in the second half of the Section 7A high school boys soccer championship Thursday night.

LINDSTROM, Minn. - Cloquet-Esko-Carlton senior Dalton Johnson drilled a shot on net in the second half of the Section 7A high school boys soccer championship Thursday night.
A Monticello defender tried to clear it with a header, but the shot instead skimmed off his head and was redirected to an open net. Suddenly, out of nowhere, goalkeeper Evan Bartlett dove to knock the ball harmlessly away.
That was as close to scoring as the Lumberjacks would get.
Bartlett made six saves for his eighth shutout of the season to lead second-seeded Monticello to a 2-0 victory at Chisago Lakes Area High School, ending an improbable run for fifth-seeded CEC.
“My goodness. That was one of the best saves I’ve seen,” Lumberjacks coach Archie Clark said. “The goaltender doesn’t expect the ball to be coming off his own guy like that. That was labeled for the top part of the net, and he was just able to get a fingertip on it. That was just an extraordinary save. That’s been our problem all year. We can get it there. We just can’t get it in.”
Monticello coach Chad Carlson expects to find out today who the Magic (13-4-2) will play in the state quarterfinals when pairings are announced. Monticello, in its second year in Section 7A, will be playing in its first state tournament after making the section final five times in Carlson’s 13 years as coach.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Carlson said. “I’ve been with this group since they were 12 years old. We’ve got eight seniors, so it’s an experienced group. We were in a brutal section before, so to finally break through is rewarding.”
Monticello controlled the first half to take a 2-0 lead into the break as Taylor Modaff scored on a shot deflected off a Lumberjacks defender and Jacob Meierhofer scored shortly after a corner kick.
The second half was nearly the opposite except CEC couldn’t finish.
“We came out and played the way we were supposed to, which is possession ball, but they turned the tables on us in the second half,” Carlson said. “They were a lot more aggressive, and we went into a little bit of a panic.”
Still, any time CEC appeared to take advantage of a defensive lapse, there was Bartlett, the 6-foot-4 human vacuum cleaner.
“He’s awesome,” Carlson said. “The last four games he’s been absolutely lights out. What can you say? When he’s on, he’s deadly.”
Cloquet-Esko-Carlton was seeking a second state tournament bid, with the first in 2011.
Johnson and junior Rob Sobczak played solid offensive games, while junior midfielder Ryan Willgohs was strong for the Lumberjacks.
“A coach’s goal is always to have his team playing the best at the end of the year, and that’s what we did,” Clark said. “We might have lost to a better team, but there’s no shame in that. Monticello is a big, physical, strong team, and I give them a lot of credit. They came out hard and had us on our heels, but I’m proud of how we responded in the second half.”
Halen Danielson, CEC’s 6-foot-2 senior goalie, made seven saves, including an outstanding kick save to deny Meierhofer on a second-half breakaway.
“I’ve been playing this my entire life, so I did what I was supposed to do,” Danielson said. “I was nervous coming into this game. I had never been this far before. But it’s not the end of the world. We just have to live and learn. We gave it a great run. I couldn’t have asked more from my teammates.”

Cloquet-EC    0-0-0
Monticello    2-0-2
First half - 1. Taylor Modaff (Alex Johnson), 4:30; 2. Jacob Meierhofer (Joe Munsterteiger), 32:32.
Second half - No scoring.
Saves - Halen Danielson, CEC, 7; Evan Bartlett,

Related Topics: CLOQUET
Jon Nowacki joined the News Tribune in August 1998 as a sports reporter. He grew up in Stephen, Minnesota, in the northwest corner of the state, where he was actively involved in school and sports and was a proud member of the Tigers’ 1992 state championship nine-man football team.

After graduating in 1993, Nowacki majored in print journalism at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, serving as editor of the college paper, “The Aquin,” and graduating with honors in December 1997. He worked with the Associated Press during the “tobacco trial” of 1998, leading to the industry’s historic $206 billion settlement, before moving to Duluth.

Nowacki started as a prep reporter for the News Tribune before moving onto the college ranks, with an emphasis on Minnesota Duluth football, including coverage of the Bulldogs’ NCAA Division II championships in 2008 and 2010.

Nowacki continues to focus on college sports while filling in as a backup on preps, especially at tournament time. He covers the Duluth Huskies baseball team and auto racing in the summer. When time allows, he also writes an offbeat and lighthearted food column entitled “The Taco Stand,” a reference to the “Taco Jon” nickname given to him by his older brother when he was a teenager that stuck with him through college. He has a teenage daughter, Emma.

Nowacki can be reached at jnowacki@duluthnews.com or (218) 380-7027. Follow him on Twitter @TacoJon1.
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