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Bemidji boys soccer tops HIllcrest for key conference win

Isak Sommer takes a pass during Tuesday's game against Hillcrest Lutheran Academy. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

The Bemidji boys soccer team defeated Hillcrest Lutheran Academy 2-1 Tuesday at the Bemidji middle school.

The Lumberjacks (7-3, 6-1) controlled possession throughout the contest and were able to hand the Comets their first loss in conference play this season.

"It is huge," Bemidji head coach Rick Toward said of the win. "Especially because it was Hillcrest's first loss in the conference. Now the conference will come down to how we stacked up against each other's opponents."

Bemidji was the first team on the board when junior Isak Sommer scored his fourth goal of the season in the 15th minute.

Senior Nick Gorick was credited his second assist on the year on the play.

HLA wasted no time at all to even the score. Less than two minutes later, Byron Varner found his way past the Bemidji defense and tied the game.

The Lumberjacks threatened to re-take the lead in the 26th minute when freshman Schussman maneuvered his way past three Comets' defenders but had his shot deflectd.

In the final minutes of the first half, Bemidji goalkeeper Connor McNaallan made the first of three diving stops to keep the score even.

"Connor was huge," said Toward. "He has nice hands and great vision of the field. This was our sixth 2-1 game this year and this was the most controlled we have been."

In the first minute of the second half, it was HLA's goalkeeper making the diving stop.

Senior Kyle Fodness' shot from within 10 feet was denied by HLA senior Taylor Isaac.

In the 51st minute , Gorick was denied on two consecutive shots. The second of those two opportunities was called a handball against the Comets.

Fodness was able to deliver on the penalty kick as his shot snuck by the diving Isaac.

"That comes from hard work," said Toward. "We had a lot of good opportunities to score. We earned that one. We did not score because the kid made a bad decision; we scored because we forced him to have to do something like that."

The goal was the tenth of the year for Fodness.

Bemidji kept the pressure on by creating plenty of opportunities, as well as keeping control of possession.

"That is the game we play," said Toward. "If they don't have the ball, they can't score."

Although the Lumberjacks could not add to the lead, they were able to hold on for the 2-1 victory.

The win was the fourth consecutive for the Lumberjacks.

Bemidji plays next at Hibbing at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday.