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Bemidji High School boys soccer team honored at awards night

The Bemidji High boys soccer team was honored Monday night at its annual Awards Night ceremony at the Commons.

Special guests were the varsity and JV players who competed this fall.

The varsity expected its section finest season in its 21 year history, ending 12-5-2 reaching the section semifinals before bowing to champion St. Cloud Cathedral.

The mark was topped only by the 13-win season in 2007 when Bemidji lost in the section final.

Head Coach Rick Toward, completing his 15th season as head coach, served as emcee, extending his appreciation to his coaching staff Jeff Mitchell and Lynn Eaton for their aid during the year.

He also expressed his appreciation to the parents and Booster Club for their aid and to the Pioneer for its game coverage and pictures.

Mitchell led off the program, reviewing the JV season.

His team ended 10-3-3, its finest finish since a 12-2 year in 2005, his second head at the helm.

He started the season with only nine players with any past experience and watched the team grow in talent and production as the year wore along.

It was also one of the smallest teams physically he had put on the field in his seven seasons.

Brothers Asa and Isaac Erickson shared the Most Improved Player Award while Dillon Eichstadt was named the team's scoring leader (10-8--18)

The Iron man Award went to Jake Arndt and the Hustle Award to Ben Peterson.

The JV outscored its foes 33-22 holding 11 to one goal or less. Carl Graefe was the net minder.

Austin Kovach and Elias Hendrickson were runners-up scorers with seven points each.

Toward cited his varsity as a "great group of kids to work with, one that improved rapidly through the season."

The group profited from heavy involvement in summer league play this year.

"We have now established Bemidji as one of the top teams in the section." Toward said, with trips to the section final and semifinal in the past three years.

He extended special thanks to manager Amy Peterson for her valuable contributions through the year including maintaining team scoring and statistics.

He followed with an extensive introduction of his 18 varsity players, citing the accomplishments of each toward the team's success.

The group included six seniors, six juniors, four sophomores and two freshmen leaving a solid nucleus for the 2010 unit to build around.

Mike Rees and Rylee Curb were cited for joining a slim list of four-year letter winners, each finishing his fourth season this year. Of the pair, Rees was a four-year starter with Curb joining the varsity late in his freshman year.

The pair joins Corey Blotske, Todd Eaton and Dane Furfaro.

Five team members were named to the Lakes to Prairie Conference All-Conference team.

They were Rees, Curb, Izak Sommer, Mike Smith and Max Hazelton with goalie Kevin Larson accorded honorable mention.

A large number of players received all-state academic awards.

They included Graefe, Kyle Fodness, Eric Haugen, Luke Upgren, Mike Smith, Rees and Ben Schreiber from the varsity and Ian Sweeney-Smith, Caige Jambor, Brian Bickel, Nick Nyberg, Arndt, Nick Gorick and Zach Jones from the JV.

Bemidji tied Detroit Lakes for first place in the Lakes to Prairie race this fall with 16 points but lost the title to the Lakers on criteria, bowing 3-2 and tying 2-2 in their two games.

It drew the second seed in the playoffs and beat Walker 4-1 and Alexandria 3-2 to gain the semifinal game with Cathedral.

The Crusaders beat Bemidji 3-0 and Sartell 3-2 on a shootout to go to the state unbeaten where they fell to Mahtomedi 2-0 in the first round.

Curb completed his career with a school record 28 goals and 54 career goals, shattering the marks held by Eric Scotland of 18 and 34 since1996.

His 74 career points also was a new school mark, topping the 56 set by Travis Long-Voelkner from 2005-07.

He will represent the conference in the state all-star game Nov. 11 at the Metrodome.

He was one of 22 from the more than 2,000 Class A players picked for the game.

He joins  Blotske (2006) and Long-Voelkner (2007) to be named to the all-state game.

Curb ended with 33 points (28-5). Hazelton was the only other player to reach double figures at 10-12---22. Fodness and Mike Burns were a point shy.

But nine players scored goals and 12 registered assists in a display of team balance.

Larson stopped 152 of 192 shots for a 79.16 saves percentage. He posted a 2.08 gpg average.

Earning their 2009 soccer letters were:

SENIORS: Mike Rees, Rylee Curb, Kevin Larson, Matt Lee, Mike Burns and Mike Smith

JUNIORS; Luke Upgren, Tanner Koetter, Tony Smith, Max Hazelton, Eric Haugen and Josh Beberg

SOPHOJMORES: Carl Graefe, Kyle Fodness, Nick Gorick and Ben Schreiber

FRESHMEN: Isak Sommer and Riley Brooks

Still to be announced are the cross country, volleyball, football and swim banquets, the grid and swim teams still alive in post season action.