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Boys soccer: Bemidji begins section play at home Thursday

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sports Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

BEMIDJI — The regular season for the Bemidji boys soccer team ended Monday at home with a 6-1 loss to Hillcrest Lutheran Academy. HLA is the top team in the section and is among the top Class A teams in the state.

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Losing to the Comets is no disgrace as Hillcrest finished its year 14-0-1 and outscored its opponents 123-3 on way to that gaudy record. The lone blemish was a 0-0 draw early in the campaign at Fargo North.

“Hillcrest is, hands down, better than anybody we have played,” said BHS coach Rick Toward. “Hillcrest is better than Cathedral. Hillcrest is better than Moorhead. Hillcrest is the best team we have seen.”

The Lumberjacks will enter the Sub-Section 8A tournament with a 5-8-3 overall record and either the third or fourth seed. BHS was ranked third with a QRF of 31.2 heading into Monday’s game while East Grand Forks was right on its heels with a QRF of 28.5.

The QRF is based on overall record plus the record of a team’s opponents and a loss to Hillcrest should not reduce the QRF by too many points. Just how many, however, remains to be seen.

If the Jacks are seeded No. 3 in the sub-section they will host either Crookston or Fergus Falls 4 p.m. Thursday. If Bemidji drops to fourth they will entertain Alexandria instead. The second round of the tournament is Saturday and, if the Lumberjacks win on Thursday, they will most likely head to either Detroit Lakes or Hillcrest.

Tuesday's first half ended in a 1-1 tie but the Comets quickly took charge in the second stanza, scoring three times within the first three minutes. Those sudden goals turned what had been a close game into a one-sided affair and Bemidji never recovered.

“In the first half we hustled, we worked and we forced Hillcrest into making some mistakes,” Toward said. “But when they scored three goals in two minutes, I think we got deflated. “Hillcrest took our heart out with that burst early in the second half. It felt like Hillcrest could score at will.”

The visitors tallied the game’s initial goal midway through the opening stanza but BHS answered 18 seconds later when Alex Schussman took a feed from Louis Iaquinto and found the net from 25 yards out.

Unfortunately, that shot proved to be Bemidji's lone goal as the Comet defense kept the Jacks away from netminder Hobet Diaz the rest of the game.

Bemidji goalie Matt Bitter was much busier as he stopped 10 shots and was constantly tested. Hillcrest’s main weapon was Chris Pellegrino as the senior scored four times and assisted on another.

Tuesday's loss extended Bemidji’s losing streak to four games but three of the setbacks were to very good teams including Sartell, Moorhead and Hillcrest.

“We played well against Moorhead and Sartell and we played well during the first half against Hillcrest,” Toward said. “And I know we have the ability to play well in the section tournament.”

Hillcrest 1 5 - 6

Bemidji 1 0 - 1

First Half

HLA-Franco (unassisted) 21:28

B-Schussman (Iaquinto) 21:46

Second Half

HLA-Pellegrino (unassisted) 0:21

HLA-Pellegrino (unassisted) 1:13

HLA-Franco (Pellegrino) 2:21

HLA-Pellegrino (Fillipinni) 25:35

HLA-Pellegrino (unassisted) 39:11

Saves

Diaz (HLA) 1 0 - 1

Bitter (B) 5 5 - 10

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