BOYS SOCCER: Bemidji improves to 2-0 with win over West Ottertail
BEMIDJI — During Friday’s 4-3 win over Little Falls the Bemidji boys soccer players were asked to concentrate on putting shots onto the net. The tactic worked as BHS began its season with a four-goal barrage.
Saturday the Lumberjacks faced West Ottertail (formerly Hillcrest Lutheran Academy) and, instead of taking shot after shot, the players were directed to work on ball control, especially on gaining an advantage with the use of the cross-field pass.
Once again, the game-plan was effective as Bemidji blanked the Storm 3-0 and improved to 2-0.
“The idea was to maintain control and to change the angle of possession by using the entire field,” said BHS coach Rick Toward. “Possession with a purpose was what we were looking for. And in the second half our possession with a purpose gave us two goals.”
The Jacks scored the lone goal of the first half when Alex Schussman’s 25-yard shot was misplayed by the goalie and Taylor Nord crashed the net and poked home the rebound.
There was nothing lucky about the two second-half tallies, however.
“We scored a ‘cheesy’ goal in the first half,” Toward admitted. “But both of our goals in the second half were the result of nice crossing passes.”
Leo Spry was the recipient of a perfect crossing feed from Schussman six minutes into the second stanza and Spry found the open side of the net from 30 yards out.
With 5:24 to play the maneuver worked again with a play that began on Bemidji’s side of center.
After the defense thwarted a Storm attack, Schussman took a feed and headed toward center. When the defenders collapsed he found Nord who was racing along the left side of the field. While Nord was racing toward the box Travis Slettvedt worked his way into a seam behind the defenders on the right side. Nord hit his teammate with a perfect pass and Slettvedt one-timed the ball into the net.
Controlling the pace and the ball also benefitted the defense as West Ottertail managed only five shots on BHS goalie Bruno Cheney.
The senior was perfect when tested although in the final minute he did have the help of the crossbar on a shot that lofted over his head and seemed destined for the net.
“This was a good win for us,” Toward said, “and to get a shutout is even better. Hillcrest always is a good team so finishing the weekend 2-0 is a good start. Last year we were 0-2 at this time and to win two games, score seven goals and have a shutout . . . I’ll take that any weekend.”
The Lumberjacks will continue their early-season homestand Tuesday when they host Detroit Lakes in a 7 p.m. contest at Chet Anderson Stadium on the BSU campus.
Bemidji 3, West Ottertail 0
W.Ottertail 0 0 - 0
Bemidji 1 2 - 3
B-Nord (Schussman) 29:21
B-Spry (Schussman) 6:12
B-Slettvedt (Nord) 34:36
Diaz (WO) 2 3 - 5
Ahmed (WO) x 2 - 2
Cheney (B) 1 4 - 5