BEMIDJI — Thursday night at Chet Anderson Stadium Bemidji girls soccer goaltender Casey Palmer had the perfect vantage point to watch and appreciate the coordinated effort between the defense and offense.
“Our defense played very well and I think we also played our best offense of the season. When the offense and the defense play that well it helps me a ton,” Palmer said.
The senior also had a major role in Thursday’s victory as she made seven saves to help the Lumberjacks end their home season with a 3-0 whitewash of Detroit Lakes. Thursday’s victory upped Bemidji’s record to 9-6 (including a win by the junior varsity over Crookston’s varsity) and reversed a 2-1 overtime loss to the Lakers a month ago in Detroit Lakes.
Maea Wall scored all three goals Thursday and her hat trick gave the junior 17 goals this season. From Palmer’s perspective, the plays that culminated in all three goals had their roots with the defense.
“If our defense is on it means that we can get good passes to the offense and we can create more scoring opportunities,” Palmer said. “Scoring can be the result of a chain reaction.”
The chain reaction was evident Thursday against the Lakers. With Wall’s speed she is able to race past the defenders and with Bemidji controlling the majority of the play the defenders were able to pass the ball where Wall could reach it.
Less than three minutes into the action the chain reaction resulted in a breakaway and Wall reached the ball at the same time that Detroit Lakes netminder Lathryn Foltz was diving to make a stop.
The collision knocked Foltz to the turf but Wall was able to maintain her balance, gather the loose ball and boot it into the open net.
The scenario was repeated a handful of times in the first half but Bemidji could not slip another shot into the goal. On one of those occasions midway through the half Foltz and Lumberjacks attacker Rachel Bitter collided and the Laker goalie injured her ankle and would not return.
Her replacement, Jordan Lundberg, was kept busy trying to outrace Bemidji’s forwards to deep set-ups and she won those battles during the final 20 minutes of the half.
At intermission BHS owned only a 1-0 lead but the trend had been set.
“We have been connecting on our passes better and better each game and on this field (Chet Anderson Stadium) we have learned how to use the extra width to our advantage,” Palmer said. “By being able to use the outsides you can spread the field and that opens the offense. Some of our best scoring opportunities Thursday came from wide plays that we were able to cross to the middle.”
Wall used her speed to score Bemidji’s second goal with 16:20 to play in the game. After a Palmer save the defense cleared the zone along the right sideline and Wall zipped past the Lakers to gain control. Wall continued to pass to herself along the sidelines and, after she had cleared the defenders, the junior cut toward the crease and beat Lundberg from 10 yards out.
In the final minute Wall iced the victory with her third goal of the game on another breakaway.
“Overall we had a great game,” Palmer said. “We communicated very well, we adjusted very well to the field and everybody played well.
“It was a good way to end our home season.”
The Lumberjacks will conclude the regular season Monday at Grand Rapids.
“We played with great possession, great intensity and great speed,” Schoonover said. “Detroit Lakes is a very tough team but we played very well.”
Bemidji 3, Detroit Lakes 0
Detroit Lakes0 0 - 0
Bemidji1 2 - 3
B-Wall (Ricci) 2:43
B-Wall (unassisted) 63:40
B-Wall (unassisted) 78:55
Foltz (DL)1 x - 1
Lundberg (DL)1 2 - 3
Palmer (B)3 4 - 7