GIRLS SOCCER: Wall, defense lead the way as BHS tops Duluth East 3-1
BEMIDJI — Maea Wall’s main asset is speed and that weapon has served her very well in her duties as an attacker for the Bemidji High School girls soccer team.
Conversely, Duluth East netminder Macey Solomon depends on aggressiveness to defend her goal.
Tuesday afternoon at the Bemidji Middle School pitch Wall and Solomon locked horns and if it were scored like a heavyweight fight, the battle would have been declared a draw.
But soccer isn’t scored like boxing. Wall delivered two key early blows, beating Solomon at the 18-minute mark and again three minutes later.
In the second half Solomon had the better of the play as she denied Wall three times on breakaways.
But the early goals proved to be decisive as Bemidji’s defense held the Greyhounds off the scoreboard in the final 40 minutes to preserve a 2-1 victory.
“Solomon is a great goalie and represented a huge challenge for Maea,” BHS coach Kelly Schoonover said. “But Maea was up to the challenge.”
Bemidji managed only three first-half shots and Wall connected on two of them. Her first goal was set up by a feed from Katie Gray while Rachel Bitter assisted on the second tally.
On each play Wall outraced the defense and beat Solomon to the ball.
In the second half Wall had three more chances to duplicate those plays and those results. But she was stopped all three times.
Midway through the second half Wall gained control 50 yards out and flicked a pass beyond the three converging defenders. Wall quickly outraced the Greyhounds and got to the ball at the same time Solomon dived for control.
Wall was able to work the ball past the netminder but her shot into an open goal clanked off the right post and Solomon was able to recover and corral the rebound.
During the next 10 minutes Wall and Solomon met twice more. On the first occasion the combatants collided and Wall was forced to the sideline for a rest. The next time they met Solomon tried to kick the ball out of harm’s way. Instead of finding an open area, however, the ball drilled Wall in the head and the junior attacker was forced to the bench again, this time for the rest of the game.
With Bemidji’s main weapon on the sidelines Duluth East forced the issue, pressing for the tying goal. The Greyhounds came close but they never were able to find a seam in Bemidji’s armor.
The Lumberjacks defenders didn’t allow many uncontested shots in the final few minutes and those that did find their way to the net were stopped by BHS netminder Casey Palmer.
“We were on our heels about 65 percent of the game,” Schoonover said. “Duluth East does a great job of keeping possession and attacking.”
Spearheading the defensive effort for the Lumberjacks were Anna Eriksson, Lydia Bitter, Paige Moen and Mackenzie Hietala. Also involved in the defensive plays were center midfielders Julian Ricci and Rachel Bitter.
“They all did great jobs,” Schoonover said. “And they had to do the job for 80 minutes because we don’t have many substitution options.
“I think about three-fourths of our kids played the entire game without a break,” the coach continued. “I guess our conditioning drills are paying off but if this game had gone into overtime I think we would have been in trouble.”
The Lumberjacks hope to regain their strength Thursday when they host East Grand Forks at 5 p.m. The six-game homestand will end Saturday when BHS entertains Brainerd at 4 p.m.
Duluth East 1 0 — 1
Bemidji 2 0 — 2
B-Wall (Gray) 18:00
B-Wall (R.Bitter) 21:00
DE-Robb (Johnson) 22:00
Solomon (DE) 1 4 — 5
Palmer (B) 4 5 — 9