Prep girls soccer: Duluth East opens season against top competition

Duluth East's early season schedule might be tougher than the foes the Greyhounds could face if they qualify again for the girls soccer state tournament.

East girls soccer
Duluth East's Michelle Stingle gains control of the ball from Lauren Bren of Eden Prairie during a match on Friday afternoon at East. Stingle is one of 14 returning players for the Greyhounds this season. (Bob King /

Duluth East's early season schedule might be tougher than the foes the Greyhounds could face if they qualify again for the girls soccer state tournament.

Or they could be the same teams.

Tenth-ranked East, which opened the high school season with a 3-2 loss to top-ranked and defending Class AA champion Eden Prairie, next faces No. 3 Eagan and No. 2 Wayzata. While it's a daunting schedule, the Greyhounds aren't shying away from the challenge and have faith they can knock off the Twin Cities' best.

"I hope we get another shot at them because I definitely think we can win," senior forward Alex Freeman said of Eden Prairie. "Last year we wanted to go to the (Metrodome for the semifinals) and we didn't make it, so that's our biggest goal. First we have to make it to state, but we definitely want to make it to the Dome."

Wayzata kept East from that goal in the 2010 quarterfinals, but Greyhounds coach Steve Polkowski returns 14 players and believes his team can reach the next level.


"We want to be in the final four," he said. "Once you get to the final four, anything can happen. And we think we're good enough to be in the final four."

To get there, East likely will have to knock off one of the state's marquee teams.

"There's so little difference among the top 10 teams in the state," Polkowski said. "We're ranked No. 10 and (Eden Prairie) is ranked No. 1 and we took them down to the wire. That'll be the trend every time we play one of these top teams. I think we'll see a bunch of one-goal games and, hopefully, we can win more than we lose."

Attackers Freeman, Caroline Henderson and Michelle Stingle, midfielders Andrea Hyduke, Rosie Nelson and Jamie Whitlinger and sweeper Christy Hacking are veterans. Defender Becca Zwak is in the final stages of rehabbing an injury from last basketball season.

Polkowski said the foundation to success is finding players to help carry the scoring load with Freeman.

"Everybody knows (Freeman) scored 23 goals, so other teams are going to know they have to shut her down," he said of the News Tribune's 2010 All-Area Player of the Year. "But we have enough complimentary players where we are going to have a bunch of kids score between eight and 15 goals. You can't just shut one kid down, it's going to be a balanced effort."

Duluth Denfeld

Though Duluth Denfeld has a senior-dominated lineup, it might be the Hunters' sophomore class that makes the difference by the end of the season.


"The sophomore class is really athletic and they are making the seniors better soccer players because they push it every day in practice," coach Ron Weber said. "We couldn't keep them off the varsity team any longer."

Weber said 60 players tried out as the program returned to Denfeld after one last year at Central. Senior forwards Emily DesMarais (16 goals) and Sarah Langlee and senior midfielder Leah Hamm (18 goals) give opposing defenses fits, while seniors Morgan Rekinger and Allyson Gronseth make the midfield strong and seniors Jordan Maciver and Kayla Pederson give the defense experience. The Hunters opened by scoring eight goals against Hermantown.

The key to the season might come in a Minnesota State High School League office, where a determination will be made if Denfeld plays at the Class AA or A level. The school is currently classified as a large school, but a reclassification process will take place once school opens.

"It sounds like what I'm hearing, we will be single-A this year," Weber said. "When we factor in the free and reduced lunches and the formula that (the MSHSL) uses, it's looking like we're going back to single-A. Denfeld always has been single-A.

"It's hard to get out of the section in double-A because of East. You always have to go through East."

Section 7a

Esko-Carlton tops field

Esko-Carlton might just "run" away with the section crown this year.


The Eskomos have four cross country runners and other track athletes on their team this fall, meaning team speed and endurance are big pluses.

Nine starters return from the team that lost to Chisago Lakes Area in the section final, including senior forward Caitlin Lilly, senior goalie Rachel Ofstie, senior defenders Sarah Juntunen and Katyanna Emanuel and junior midfielders Hillary Anderson and Brooke Schramm.

Class A state meet cross country champion Marisa Shady and her younger sister, Erika, also hope to contribute.

"Usually you're just missing one piece of the puzzle, but we have it all this year," Lilly said. "We're hoping for the best."

Lilly scored 21 goals last year in earning All-Area honors.

"She's a very smart player and a very fast player," Eskomos coach Nicole Peterson said.

  • Senior captains Sadie Micke, Mikaela Dunaisky, Kelsey Anderson and Carri Zeadow and All-LSC midfielder Emily Rikkola are back for a Cloquet team that has hopes of not only returning above .500 but contending for a conference title.
  • Head coach Forrest Randall takes over in a good situation at Proctor, losing only three players from a 9-7-1 team. Senior captains Micayla Westendorf, Maria Palen and Laura Talarico and sophomores Zoe Berlinquette (forward) and Kassie Haedtke (goalie) are among the returnees.
  • Hermantown graduated only two full-time starters, so the Hawks seek to rebound from a sub-.500 season. Senior goalie Alexa Peterson and a multitude of upperclassmen return on defense (Rachael Hoium and Keely Lonetto), in midfield (Christina Petsoulis, Melissa Madison, Megan Danelski and Katarina Hedstrom) and at forward (Makenzie Herzig and Sami Hanson).
  • Fourth-year forward Angela Katoski (12 goals, eight assists) factored in 60 percent of the scoring for a Duluth Marshall team that finished at the bottom of the LSC last season. Senior midfielder Caroline Sharp, senior defender Caitlin Schneider, junior midfielder Sylvie Weintraub and freshman midfielder Megan Coughlan are regulars.
  • Grand Rapids was stingy last season, allowing more than two goals only three times. With senior defenders Karley Petersen, Savannah Schlauderaff and Abby Walker, along with junior goalie Morgan Bruns, returning, the Thunderhawks could be tough to score upon again.
  • Two Harbors has been besieged by injuries and illness, and the season just started. Junior captain Abby Cable tore an anterior cruciate ligament in the Agates' first scrimmage, and senior midfielder Hayley Horgan is out with mononucleosis. Plus, senior goalie Lucy Bukowski is coming off her own ACL injury. Senior forward Lacey Myrdal hopes to recapture her goal-scoring touch of a few years ago, and seniors Maddie Wielinski and Molly Guiney lead the backline.
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