Duluth Denfeld senior Joe Eklund got free behind the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton defense early in the second half to score the game’s only goal in a 1-0 Lake Superior Conference win Tuesday, Sept. 28, at Public Schools Stadium in Duluth.
“Parker Chastey was dribbling up and I saw him looking at a spot and I knew where to run to,” Eklund said. “I found the spot he was going to play to and I was there at the right time. I saw where the goalie was and shot to the opposite side.”
CEC came out strong in the first half, pressuring the Hunter defense and putting several shots on goal, but couldn’t convert any of its early scoring opportunities.
“They came out a little better in the second half, with a little bit more energy, but I felt like we were still dictating the play,” CEC coach John Sundquist said. “But we let (Eklund) free once and he made us pay.”
The Lumberjacks were able to keep the ball on the Denfeld side of the field through most of the first half, but Conrad Lazzaro and the Hunter defense were able to keep CEC from getting a strong shot close to the goal.
“We recognized what their strategy was and made some adjustments personnel-wise out there and got them on their heels,” Denfeld coach Scott Anderson said. “We kept our same formation, we just looked at different people’s strengths and what they could bring to the game and it worked out.”
CEC had plenty of chances to score, including free kicks at the end of each half, but was unable to convert any of the opportunities.
Sundquist said he was happy with the team’s play and its ability to control the play and the defense has been a pleasant surprise.
“I thought we were going to struggle a lot more on defense that we are with graduating our whole defensive line last year,” Sundquist said.
Lumberjack goalkeeper Lucas Rauner made three saves in the game and the Lumberjack defense was able to limit the number of point-blank shots after Eklund scored.
Lazzaro also had three saves.
The CEC offense has struggled in its big games so far this year. The Lumberjacks (6-4-2) have averaged five goals in each of their six wins, but have scored one goal or less in the team’s losses or ties.
What’s more, the defense has allowed more than one goal only once, a 2-1 loss to Grand Rapids Sept. 18.
“We have four losses and they’re all one-goal games,” Sundquist said. “We’re not letting in a bunch, but we’re just not put the ball in the net enough. This is another zero game for us — we can’t win if we don’t score.”
CEC is next scheduled to host Hermantown at noon Saturday, Oct. 2.
Denfeld (9-3) is scheduled to play at Hermantown at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30.
Duluth Denfeld 0-1—1
First half — No scoring.
Second half — 1. DD, Joe Eklund (Parker Chastey), 47th.
Saves — Lucas Rauner, CEC, 6; Conrad Lazzaro, DD, 6.