Through the years Bemidji boys soccer coach Rick Toward has learned that scheduling tough opponents early in the season will pay dividends later in the fall.
With that in mind Toward purposely went top-heavy in the early going and if the Lumberjacks could fashion a 3-3 record during the first two weeks of competition the coach would have been satisfied.
Bemidji did that although the six-game stretch ended Saturday with a 4-1 loss at St. Cloud Cathedral.
"I think we're in good shape," Toward said of the 3-3 record and the way his athletes are playing. "We have not had an easy schedule and 3-3 against this field is a good record."
St. Cloud Cathedral has traditionally been among the top teams the Jacks face all year and Saturday the Crusaders, who defeated BHS 3-0 in last year's Section 8A championship game, showed that they belong in that category again this fall.
"Teams like Grand Rapids and East Grand Forks have seven or eight players who can give you fits," Toward said. "But Cathedral has 10 of those players. They didn't give us the time to find the ball and make the play."
St. Cloud Cathedral opened the scoring 14 minutes into the action when Austin Mareck connected on a perfectly-placed rocket from 20 yards out.
Neither team scored the remainder of the half but two minutes into the second period Myles Hagen found the net from 25 yards out following a St. Cloud Cathedral corner kick.
The Lumberjacks drew within 2-1 at the 44-minute mark when Nick Gorick took a feed from Austin Kovach and beat the goalie with a spin-around shot. The Crusaders regained the momentum eight minutes later, however, as Mareck zipped a shot just inside the post from 20 yards out.
St. Cloud Cathedral capped the scoring at the 62-minute mark when Josh Garceau headed a ball off the post and past Bemidji goalie Connor McNallan.
"St. Cloud Cathedral's players place their shots very well," Toward said. "This by far was the best team we've faced all year."
Bemidji will make its second home appearance Monday when it hosts Detroit Lakes at 4 p.m. Earlier this fall the Lumberjacks posted a 3-0 victory at Detroit Lakes.
St. Cloud Cathedral 4, Bemidji 1
Bemidji 0 1 - 1
St. Cloud Cathedral 1 3 - 4
SCC-Mareck (unassisted) 14:00
SCC-Hagen (Schreiber) 42:00
Bem-Gorick (Kovach) 44:00
SCC-Mareck (unassisted) 52:00
SCC-Garceau (Thibault) 62:00
McNallan (Bem) 4 3 - 7
Ruegemer (SCC) 1 5 - 6