Bemidji captures 8A girls soccer championship
Rachael Bitter and Erin Booth converged on a rebound and Booth lifted a shot over East Grand Forks goalkeeper Jenna Knutson with 1.5 seconds to play to lift the Bemidji girls soccer team to a 3-2 victory in the Section 8A title game Thursday night at St. Cloud State.
Despite an hour postponement and an eventual 8:30 p.m. start time, the Bemidji girls soccer team gave one of its top performances of the fall.
BHS controlled play through much of the game and the Jacks upset the top-seeded Green Wave.
The third-seeded Lumberjacks will open their state meet Wednesday, October 26 at a site and against an opponent yet to be determined.
Thursday's game was delayed an hour when the boys Section 8A title game went into a shootout. Sartell eventually defeated St. Cloud Cathedral 2-1 for the title.
The late start didn't seem to bother Bemidji, however, as the Jacks held their own with EGF through the first half.
The Green Wave opened the scoring in the fifth minute when CoCo Piche attacked and passed to Dani Pickard who found a seam between the right post and Lumberjacks goalkeeper Casey Palmer.
EGF held the upper hand in the play up to that point but instead of deflating the Lumberjacks the deficit seemed to inspire them.
Stina Haave, Josie Spry and Booth teamed for a strong scoring opportunity 16 minutes into the session but the EGF defense kept the trio at bay.
About five minutes later, however, Knutson wasn't as fortunate as Booth sent a free kick to Caitlin Blotske and, after making a move, the senior co-captain slipped a shot past Knutson to tie the game at 1-1.
Neither team scored during the remainder of the stanza but the Lumberjacks generated the better pressure.
Bemidji's attack suffered a setback with 6:30 to play in the half when Josie Spry collided with a defender and both tumbled to the turn. Spry injured her knee in the collision and hobbled to the bench.
Spry spent the second half with an ice pack on her knee and was replaced by Bitter.
In the second half BHS continued to apply the pressure and the extra effort paid dividends at the 48:25 mark. A Green Wave infraction gave Bemidji's Paige Moen a free kick and she sent it to Booth near the goal. Booth was able to head a pass to Bitter and the eighth grader beat Knutson for her second goal of the season.
The Jacks spent the final few minutes trying to preserve the victory but EGF temporarily broke Bemidji's hearts when Jayden Boushey tied the game with only 1:58 to play in regulation.
As has been the custom, however, the Jacks didn't panic. They continued to be aggressive and with 28 seconds to play Haave hit the crossbar. EGF was unable to clear the zone, however, and Bemidji maintained the pressure. And with 1.5 seconds to play Haave sent a kick toward the net and Bitter and Booth rammed it home for the game-winner.
Bemidji 1 2 - 3
East Grand Forks 1 1 - 2
EGF-Pickard (Piche) 4:30
B-Blotske (Booth) 21:18
B-Bitter (Booth) 48:25
EGF-Boushey (unassisted) 78:02