BEMIDJI – The first step in what Bemidji hopes will lead to a return trip to the state tournament was taken Thursday as the Lumberjacks girls soccer team dismantled Crookston 8-0 at the middle school field.
Thursday’s sub-section quarterfinal victory vaulted the second-seeded Jacks into Saturday’s semifinal and a 12:30 p.m. home game against No. 3 Detroit Lakes.
The Lakers defeated No. 6 Walker-Hackensack-Akeley 5-1.
As expected, Crookston (the seventh seed in the seven-team sub-section) proved to be no challenge for BHS. Thursday’s game marked the third meeting between the teams and in the three games the Lumberjacks own a 26-0 lead in total goals.
Prior to the game all who follow girls soccer knew that Bemidji was likely to win so the Jacks had to focus on aspects of the game besides the final score in order to stay focused for the stiffer tests that are on the horizon.
“This was a good opportunity for the coaches to work with the players and give them feedback on our overall play,” said BHS coach Kelly Schoonover. “This was a chance for us to fine tune a few things.”
Crookston seldom had possession on the Lumberjacks’ side of midfield Thursday and Bemidji’s constant pressure took its toll on the visitors.
Pirates goalkeeper Carly Welter denied the first few BHS scoring opportunities but six minutes into the action the Jacks connected.
Jillian Ricci began the play with a corner kick from the left side. Her kick to the slot went to Maea Wall and she relayed it to Erin Booth in the middle of the box. Instead of taking a turnaround shot Booth back-passed to Katie Gray who was all alone 10 yards out and Gray scored on a tap-in.
Wall upped the lead to 2-0 a few minutes later when she scored on a breakaway which was set up by Josie Spry’s feed from near midfield.
That tally sparked a run that produced three goals in as many minutes.
At 12:27 Spry bent a shot over the goalie and under the crossbar to up Bemidji’s cushion to 3-0 and 13 minutes in Rachel Bitter lofted a floater over the keeper to up the advantage to 4-0.
Booth gave the Jacks a 5-0 lead at intermission when she scored courtesy of Ricci’s feed with a minute to play in the first half.
The second stanza followed a similar script. Bemidji tallied three times in the half as Ricci found the net with help from Katlyn Westlund at 48:57, Emily Boyer converted feeds from Ricci and Booth at 50:45 and Spry notched her second of the night courtesy of Rachel Bitter’s assist at 69:04.
Cassidy Morris tended Bemidji’s net and was credited with a pair of saves, both in the first half.
Welter stopped faced 17 shots and stopped nine.
“Our goal was to win every 50-50 ball, maintain possession and play quick soccer,” Schoonover said of Thursday’s challenges. “During the first 25 minutes I thought we were getting into some bad habits in terms of dumping and chasing. Perhaps that was nerves or perhaps it was what Crookston allowed us to do.
“But we improved in that area in the later stages of the first half and during the second half,” the coach continued. “And when we go against the better teams we will need to keep possession. And we will go against a better team on Saturday.”
Bemidji will take an 11-6 record into Saturday’s semifinal. During the regular season the Jacks posted 3-2 and 4-3 wins over Detroit Lakes.
Crookston 0 0 - 0
Bemidji 5 3 - 8
B-Gray (Booth, Wall). 5:51
B-Wall (Spry). 10:05
B-Spry (Ricci). 12:27
B-Bitter (unassisted). 12:59
B-Booth (Ricci). 38:53
B-Ricci (Westlund). 48:57
B-Boyer (Ricci, Booth). 50:45
B-Spry (R.Bitter). 69:04
Welter (Cr) 5 4 - 9
Morris (B) 2 0 - 2