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Prep girls state soccer: Cloquet-Carlton offense sputters in loss to Red Knights

The Lumberjacks struggled to generate scoring opportunities in their semifinal loss to Benilde-St. Margaret's.

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Katelyn Olson (0) of Cloquet-Carlton makes a save against Ava Wagener (17) of Benilde-St. Margaret’s during the Class AA state semifinal game on Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Cloquet-Carlton finally ran into a team with a defense stingier than its own.

The Lumberjacks were only able to generate a single shot on goal in the first half of a 3-0 loss to Benilde-St. Margaret's in the Minnesota Class AA semifinal Thursday at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

Elizabeth Dietzen struck first for the Red Knights, getting on the end of one of the team’s six first-half corner kicks and putting it past Cloquet-Carlton goalkeeper Katelyn Olson in the 15th minute.

“They had several corners early on and I don’t think there was much we could do about it,” Lumberjack coach Dustin Randall said. “We were tracking back and they were bouncing them off of us, so we had to deal with it. That was maybe not even the best corner they put in there, but I saw the scramble and it landed at her feet and they’re just poised and ready to pounce on everything."

The Lumberjacks didn’t have their first real scoring opportunity until the 32nd minute. The Lumberjacks challenged goalkeeper Olivia Olson. Cloquet-Carlton looked to have multiple shots, but Olson was able to cover and clear the ball to the Benilde attackers.

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Senior Ava Wagener pushed the ball upfield to Kiya Galland and scored in the 33rd minute to put the Lumberjacks in a 2-0 hole heading into halftime.

“On the first goal, I saw Ava taking it down and I know that she likes to play at the end line,” Gilliand said. “I decided to come back a little and that she would have a window to play it in and then I was just thinking about how many touches I should take — if I should take one touch or two-touch it. I had enough time, so I took two touches and hit it.”

The Lumberjacks were able to generate a few more opportunities and three shots on goal in the second half, but were unable to convert the chances.

The Cloquet-Carlton defense limited the Red Knights attack better in the second half, but Gilliand was able to put a rebound in the back of the net in the 69th minute to give Benilde the insurance goal it was looking for.

The three goals allowed were a season-high for the Lumberjack defense and only the third time all season an opponent scored multiple goals.

With Benilde grabbing the top seed in the tournament, Randall knew his team had a tall task ahead of it.

“They’ve been blowing out teams all year,” he said. “We’re a pretty good defensive team, but we knew we were going to have to stand in there and play our best game. They just didn’t have any holes. They were patient, they were good on the ball, they were looking for spaces and they were moving us all over the place. We did out best to hang in there and fight with them, but it was unrelenting.”

It was a tough loss for Cloquet-Carlton (17-3), but even with the loss still fresh, senior Maddie Young was able to look back on the season and the Lumberjacks’ third consecutive section title positively.

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“Going into the season we weren’t so sure — we had a lot of rebuilding to do from last year,” Young said. “We lost our goalkeeper, we lost almost all of our backline, but we had people jump right in. It was like we never lost anyone. We worked real hard all season, we practiced hard, played well as a team. It all kind of came together."

Cloquet-Carlton isn't quite finished yet. The Lumberjacks will face the loser of the other semifinal match between Academy of Holy Angels and Mahtomedi in the third-place game at 11 a.m. Friday at the West St. Paul Athletics Center.

Cloquet-Carlton 0-0—0

Benilde-St. Margaret’s 2-1—3

First half scoring — 1. BSM, Elizabeth Dietzen, 15th; 2. BSM, Kiya Gilliand (Ava Wagener), 33rd.

Second half scoring — 3. BSM, Gilliand, 69th.

Saves — Katelyn Olson, CC, 3; Olivia Olson, BSM, 4.

Related Topics: SOCCERCLOQUETGIRLS SOCCER
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