BEMIDJI – With an important early-season test coming today at home against Hillcrest Lutheran Academy, the Bemidji boys soccer team wanted to work out a few kinks Friday in the season opener against Little Falls.
And the Lumberjacks found plenty of opportunities to experiment, as they roared to a 2-0 lead after six minutes before eventually costing to a 5-1 victory.
Today’s opponent should pose a stiffer challenge, as Hillcrest traditionally is a section power.
“Between its boarding program and its co-op with Pelican Rapids, you never know what you will see from Hillcrest,” BHS coach Rick Toward said following Friday’s rout. “The advantage we will have (Saturday) is that the Hillcrest guys probably don’t know each other yet. We know there will be talent, but it is early in the season and Hillcrest may not have had time to turn that talent into a strong team yet.”
Bemidji was a strong team Friday against Little Falls and leading the offense were Alex Schussman and Isak Sommer.
Schussman collected a hat trick while Sommer scored twice and assisted on two others.
“Alex and Isak are going to score a ton of goals this fall,” Toward said. “Isak is tough to defend. His two goals Friday were scored with ease; he just dribbled through the defense.”
Sommer set up the game’s initial tally 3 minutes, 27 seconds into the action when he dribbled through the Flyers and hit Schussman in perfect stride.
Schussman sprinted behind the defense to the low right side and rifled a shot into the left side of the net.
A few minutes later Schussman scored again, this time unassisted after he dribbled from midfield to the middle of the box. When the goalie came out to challenge, Schussman sent a shot over his head and under the crossbar.
Little Falls drew within 2-1 after scoring on a rebound of a free kick inside the box, but four minutes later the Lumberjacks connected again, this time courtesy of Sommer, who danced through five Flyers and eventually found the net with a low shot past the goalie.
Schussman completed his hat trick at the 31-minute mark when he converted another Sommer feed.
Sommer notched his second of the stanza with 29 seconds to play after taking a pass from Matt Bitter on a free kick in the box.
The second half was anticlimactic. Little Falls couldn’t generate any offense while Bemidji seemed content to preserve its energy for today’s test against Hillcrest.
“We wanted to get up on Little Falls early, and after seven minutes we were ahead 2-0,” Toward said. “We had Little Falls behind the 8-ball from the beginning.
“At halftime we talked about keeping possession in the second half but we lost our focus of attack,” Toward said. “We knew we had a game (today) against a very good Hillcrest team and we didn’t want to burn ourselves out.”
Today’s game begins at 1 p.m.
Little Falls1 0 - 1
Bemidji5 0 - 5
B-Schussman (Sommer), 3:27
B-Schussman (unassisted), 5:58
LF-Masog (unassisted), 16:47
B-Sommer (unassisted), 20:24
B-Schussman (Sommer), 31:18
B-Sommer (Bitter), 39:31
Ross (LF)6 2 - 8
McNallan (B)4 4 - 8