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Historic season ends for able Lumberjacks

A spectacular first season came to a close for the Cloquet- Esko-Carlton boys lacrosse team Thursday as the No. 4 seed Lumberjacks fell 16-8 to the No. 5 seed Centennial Cougars at Members Cooperative Credit Union Stadium in Cloquet.

"They are a big, physical team and they took advantage of some matchups that were in their favor," said CEC coach Luke Mehelich.

The first quarter was a back-and-forth affair and ended in a 4-4 stalemate. After giving up the first goal just three minutes into the game, the Lumberjacks got back-to-back goals from Michael Cadotte to gain a 2-1 lead. Cadotte's second goal came after a face-off win by Logan Dahlman.

"We didn't play our best and I don't think they had their best game either, but the guys kept working and didn't give up," Mehelich said.

After giving up a pair of goals, the Lumberjacks trailed 3-2. Then CEC answered with a goal from Saige Moran and the third goal of the game by Cadott to go up 4-3 with 51 seconds remaining in the quarter. Unfortunately, the Cougars responded with a goal by Logan Adams, which made it 4-4 after one quarter.

Things started to fall apart quickly in the second quarter for the 'Jacks as the Cougars reeled off six straight goals to go up 10-4 before CEC answered with a goal by Alex Halvorson. The glory was short-lived, as Centennial tacked on another goal by Adams to go up 11-5 at halftime.

The second half was more of a defensive effort by both clubs as CEC struggled to cut the gap and get back in the game. Centennial notched six more goals and the 'Jacks added three: Moran scored one and Cadotte two.

For the game, Cadotte scored five goals and Moran tallied two.

"We went 10-3 this season, which was our first season as a program," Mehelich said. "We had to blend kids from three schools, and you couldn't have asked for better chemistry. The guys came together better than we coaches expected. They seemed like they wanted to prove a point."

CEC will lose six seniors off this year's roster. Lost to graduation will be Jake Peterson, Saige Moran, Michael Cadotte, Keagan Hall, Connor Purcell and Gino Bertogliat.

"There will be some big holes to fill, but both myself and coach Matt Yorston feel like the future looks very good," Mehelich said. "We will have six kids coming in from the U14 team, and there were a few guys who could have played high school this season that decided to wait and see how the season went this year. We think some of them will be back, so we're excited."

It will be tough to top this season, as the Lumberjacks shocked the section by making a run to the quarterfinals and an impressive winning record.

"We know we will have a lot of work to do, but we are trying to build a program, and we're excited about putting in the work," Mehelich said.

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