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Prep girls soccer: Cloquet-Carlton is the team to beat in Section 7AA

The Lumberjacks are gunning for their fourth straight section title.

Cloquet soccer beats North Branch
Cloquet-Carlton senior Macava Smith, No. 22, works to get the ball away from North Branch's Sharleen Garcia Velazquez during the Lumberjacks' home win Monday, Aug. 29, 2022.
Amy Arntson / For the Pine Journal
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CLOQUET — Cloquet-Carlton senior Avery Carlson scored in each half to lead the Lumberjacks to a 4-1 win over North Branch Monday.

The Lumberjacks dictated the pace of play early on, but managed only one goal in the first 40 minutes of play. North Branch goalkeeper Dylan Lifto played far out in front of the goal and threw the Cloquet-Carlton attack off early.

“We were creating all the chances, we were just a little off balance,” coach Dustin Randall said. “We haven’t scored a lot of goals yet, so they have got that comfort and just playing in balance. There were a lot of rushed, forced things and their keeper was very good — she was smothering a lot of stuff that was coming in. I thought we played OK, finishing wasn’t quite there, but I thought we sorted out most of our issues pretty early in that half.”

Alexa Snesrud and Carlson struck in quick succession early in the second half and Carlson put the game away with her second goal with about 17 minutes left to play.

Cloquet soccer beats North Branch
Cloquet-Carlton's Alexa Snesrud heads the ball during the Lumberjacks' home win over North Branch Monday, Aug. 29, 2022.
Amy Arntson / For the Pine Journal

With the win, Cloquet-Carlton has a victory over the team it topped in the Section 7AA championship game in 2021 and picked up a 2-1 win over Two Rivers Saturday. Two Rivers beat the Lumberjacks 2-0 last season, one of just two regular-season losses for the team.

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In a scene reminiscent of its season opener a year ago, Cloquet-Carlton fell to St. Francis 1-0 in their first game of 2022 Thursday. In 2021, the Lumberjacks fell to the Fighting Saints 2-0 in the 2021 opener, but returned the favor by ending St. Francis’s season with a 1-0 win in the Class AA quarterfinal.

The Lumberjack senior is headed to Northern Michigan University in Marquette next fall to play soccer and hopes to one day become an anesthesiologist.

The Lumberjacks will miss the presence of 2021 News Tribune All-Area Player of the Year Katie Turner, who is playing at Northern Michigan this fall. Turner led Cloquet-Carlton with nine goals and 20 points last season and was the spark plug for a team that ended its season in the Class AA semifinal at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Cloquet-Carlton does return more than half of its offensive production in Carlson, Snesrud and junior Kiley Issendorf. Issendorf, an all-state selection in 2021, led the Lumberjacks with 12 goals, while Carlson and Snesrud combined for another 18.

Cloquet soccer beats North Branch
Cloquet-Carlton senior Katelyn Olson makes a save as Allie Jones, No. 8, and North Branch's Ava Gerten, No. 13, and Ava Mohs, No. 14, look on during the Lumberjacks' 4-1 win Monday, Aug. 29, 2022.
Amy Arntson / For the Pine Journal

Carlson has already tallied three scores in 2022 and Issendorf has two assists in the first three games, but Randall said don’t expect the scoring this season to be a carbon copy of last year.

“When you lose a player like Katie Turner, the focus of other teams changes,” Randall said. “They’ve got to find that rhythm, that cohesiveness. We build our attack from the back, so despite the names and the numbers on the score sheet, that back line is all different. We have to rebuild that to create our kind of soccer.”

The defense was the strength of the team in 2021 and should be strong again. The Lumberjacks allowed just 11 goals in 21 games last season and they return senior goalkeeper Katelyn Olson. She allowed 0.58 goals per game in 20 appearances, but with a brand-new back line, Olson will need to take on an expanded role with the defense.

Olson started working with the new line last spring and over the summer to get ready for 2022.

“I feel like just getting to know them a lot more and getting that connection with them helps to be able to control the field more with them and assert where they need to go,” Olson said. “It helps that we have one older girl — (junior) Madi (Fredrickson). She’s one of our seven defenders and she helps me just glue everyone together. She’s been around for a while, so it’s nice having her back there.”

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With a win over 2021 section runner-up already under their belts, the Lumberjacks look like the favorites to win a fourth straight section championship and return to the state tournament.

If they can produce a few more goals than they did in 2021, they hope to be able to return to U.S. Bank Stadium and potentially move into the title game.

Cloquet-Carlton (2-1) will next host Esko at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 30.

North Branch 0-1—1

Cloquet-Carlton 1-3—4

First half goals — 1. CC, Avery Carlson (Madi Fredrickson), 9th.

Second half scoring — 2. CC, Alexa Snesrud (Macie Majerle), 53rd; 3. CC, Carlson 54th; 4. NB, Ava Mohs, 63rd; 5. CC, Majerle, 73rd.

Saves — Dylan Lifto, NB, 11; Katelyn Olson, CC, 2.

Jamey Malcomb has a been high school sports reporter for the Duluth News Tribune since October 2021. He spent the previous six years covering news and sports for the Lake County News-Chronicle in Two Harbors and the Cloquet Pine Journal. He graduated from the George Washington University in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in history and literature and also holds a master's degree in secondary English education from George Mason University.
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