SOCCER: Lumberjacks boys blank Detroit Lakes 3-0
BEMIDJI -- After going 0-3 in the first three games last season, Bemidji High School boys soccer coach Rick Toward likes where his team is headed after the same number of games this time around.
"The kids' confidence is high right now," Toward said. "We were 0-3 in our first three games last year, so it's a little bit of a jump for us. We're still trying to figure some things out but for the most part, we're pretty good."
On Tuesday night the Lumberjacks took on Detroit Lakes on the turf at BSU's Chet Anderson Stadium and kept that confidence high with a 3-0 win over the Lakers.
It was the second-straight shutout for BHS and goalkeeper Bruno Cheney.
The Lumberjacks dominated the Lakers from the opening kickoff but couldn't score until more than halfway through the first half.
That was mostly due to the play of Detroit Lakes keeper Connor Johnson, who swatted away a shot from forward Alex Schussman with a diving play in the first two minutes and also stopped one from Taylor Nord a few minutes later.
However, Johnson couldn't stop a free kick from Schussman with 18 minutes to go.
Schussman was fouled just outside the penalty area and was able to kick the ball around the wall of red-shirted Lakers and past Johnson.
Johnson made three more saves in the first half that kept the score from getting out of hand -- including one from his knees at 7:25.
The Lumberjacks finally got their second goal with three minutes to go, with some nifty passing from Payton Christofferson to Noah Kovach to Travis Slettvedt, who finished the play.
In the second half the Lumberjacks didn't quite pour it on but scored their third and final goal just as the weather started pouring.
Nord, the BHS center-back, brought the ball up along the far side near the corner flag and sent a perfect cross to Kovach, who was perched perfectly to receive the pass and beat Johnson.
"The play of our midfield -- Payton, Travis, Noah -- seeing those guys get points on the board, that really helps us," Toward said. "It takes the pressure off our forwards. That makes me feel good."
The Lakers (1-2) never threatened to score aside from near the end of the game. Cheney made a fantastic save going down on his knees to preserve the shutout.
Despite the scoreline and a 14-4 advantage on shots on goal, Toward felt like his team could have scored more -- possibly a combination of Johnson's work in goal, the rain and the artificial turf at Chet Anderson Stadium.
"The kids today were saying, 'We never really got hold of a ball,'" Toward said. "If you watch the way we shoot on grass, they can really lace a ball. But we never got hold of one ball tonight. So we have to work on that next time we play out here."
The Lumberjacks travel to Grand Rapids next Tuesday, Sept. 2, before returning home Thursday, Sept. 4, to take on East Grand Forks on the turf at BSU.
Bemidji 3, Detroit Lakes 0
DL 0 0 -- 0
BHS 2 1 -- 3
BHS - Schussman (unassisted, direct kick), 17:45.
BHS - Slettvedt (Kovach), 3:15.
BHS - Kovach (Nord), 22:00.
Johnson (DL) 4 7 -- 11
Cheney (BHS) 1 3 -- 4