BEMIDJI – The scouting report on how to try and stop Bemidji’s boys soccer team must be circulating because many teams have adopted a “kick the ball out of harm’s way and make the Lumberjacks regroup” philosophy.
Thursday at the middle school field Hibbing was the latest opponent to employ that tactic. It worked for a while but eventually BHS rammed home a pair of goals on way to a 2-0 win.
“This felt like our game against East Grand Forks (a 5-0 Bemidji victory) because Hibbing kept putting a lot of bodies between us and the goal,” said Jacks coach Rick Toward. “We held the ball for long stretches. We possessed the ball all day. But when Hibbing would get the ball it would clear with a one-timer and then we would have to set up again.”
That defensive style worked for the Bluejackets through the initial 40 minutes as neither team scored in the first half. But eight minutes into the second session the Lumberjacks broke through when Isak Sommer converted Austin Kovach’s feed and beat Hibbing goalie Alex Harme from 18 yards.
“Isak had a wide-open look and he has enough pace on his kicks to score from that distance,” Toward said of his forward who rifled a shot inside the left post.
At the 67-minute mark BHS iced the victory when Sommer notched his second of the game, this one courtesy of a shot off his shoulder which was set up by Alex Schussman’s corner kick.
“During the second half we had many good scoring opportunities but it took Isak a couple of good looks to get us home,” Toward said. “All day we had open looks from 18 yards out. All day we kept possession in the middle of the field but our problem was executing in the last one-third of the field.
“We couldn’t get open when we were attacking close to Hibbing’s goal,” the coach continued.
Thursday’s win improved Bemidji’s record to 8-0-1 and Saturday the Jacks will hope to remain unbeaten when they visit Brainerd.
“Going into the season we knew we had a good group of players but being 8-0-1 is a place we’ve never been before,” Toward said. “We still have tough competition left on our schedule and we don’t’ want to become complacent, but we’re happy being 8-0-1.
“Defensively we have corrected many problems that surfaced early in the year. Offensively we have to figure out the last one-third of the field. But continuing to improve is what the rest of the season is for,” Toward added.
Hibbing: 0 0 - 0
Bemidji: 0 2 - 2
B-Sommer (Kovach). 47:45
B-Sommer (Schussman). 67:14
Harme (H): 3 5 - 8
McNallan (B): 3 1 - 4