The Bemidji girls soccer team finished strong to defeat Hillcrest Lutheran Academy in the opening game of the Section 8A playoffs Thursday at Bemidji Soccer Field.
Josie Spry scored the only goal of the first half, and Jillian Ricci and Stina Haave scored six minutes apart in the second half. Goalie Casey Palmer finished with eight saves.
"It was a slow start for us," Bemidji head coach Kelly Schoonover said. "We improved in the second half and played with more intensity as a team. It was nice to see us start the second half with back-to-back goals."
The Lumberjacks (11-6) are seeded No. 3 in the tournament and Hillcrest (6-10) was ranked No. 6. Bemidji advanced to Saturday's section quarterfinal round against the winner of Thursday's game between No. 2 Alexandria (9-4-3) and No. 7 Walker-Hackensack-Akeley (3-9). Game time is 1 p.m. in Alexandria if the Cardinals win or in Bemidji if W-H-A wins.
Spry put the Lumberjacks on the board 37 minutes in on a cross from Caitlin Blotske.
Bemidji pulled away in the second half on Ricci's goal at 42 minutes and Haave's score at 48 minutes.
Erin Booth started the play on Ricci's goal with a midfield pass to Spry, who fed the ball to Ricci for a one-touch goal.
Blotske scored when Hillcrest was unable to clear the ball away from the net. She came away with the ball and beat Hillcrest goalie Kathryn Senum for the 3-0 lead.
Bemidji 3, Hillcrest Lutheran 0
HLA 0 0 - 0
Bemidji 1 2 - 3
B- Spry (Blotske), 37:00.
B- Ricci (Spry), 42:00.
B- Haave (unassisted), 48:00.
B- Palmer 7-1-8
H- Senum 7-10-17