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BOYS SOCCER: Offense paves the way as Bemidji stops Flyers 4-3

Bemidji’s Cole Mitchell (16) scored the first goal of the soccer season for the Lumberjacks Friday against Little Falls. Bemidji won 4-3. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI — In the early going Bemidji boys soccer coach Rick Toward is expecting his offense to be the team’s strength and in Friday’s opener against Little Falls at the middle school field the offense did its job.

The Lumberjacks forged a 3-0 lead 52 minutes into the action and held on for a 4-3 victory in the first game of a busy weekend. Today the Jacks will host Hillcrest Lutheran Academy at 1 p.m.

“Our goal on Friday was to put the ball in the net,” Toward said. “We were looking for three goals and we needed four to win. Fortunately, we created many opportunities and we scored the four goals.”

Much of Friday’s contest was played at midfield but for most of the afternoon BHS was able to hold an edge in ball control. The visitors, however, scored with nine minutes to play and again in the final 20 seconds to claw within 4-3 at the final buzzer.

“We were a little sloppy in the back for awhile but we have new kids back there and it will take some time for those kids to play well at this level,” the coach said. “I think we created more chances than Little Falls did and, overall, we were just fine.”

Among those chances was a corner kick seven minutes into the game. After Cole Mitchell’s shot from the left side of the box was deflected, Alex Schussman delivered a corner kick toward the net and Mitchell was able to soar above the defense and find the mesh with a header.

The 1-0 lead stood the rest of the half but 10 minutes into the second session Leo Spry and Schussman teamed for two goals within 90 seconds. On both tallies Spry found Schussman with a pin-point pass and the senior attacker beat Flyers goalie Michael Hanowski from short range.

Little Falls found the scoreboard with 16:40 to play when the Flyers converted on a corner kick but the Jacks answered five minutes later as Payton Christofferson threaded a feed to Kyle Johnson who was racing through the slot and Johnson drilled a left-footed shot past Hanowski.

That goal seemed to be just icing on the cake but it proved critical as Little Falls connected with another corner kick at the 71-minute mark and then drew within 4-3 in the final 20 seconds.

“Little Falls scored three goals and three is usually enough to win a soccer game,” Toward said.

“But this was our first game of the season and we wanted to get everybody into the game. Little Falls is not a bad team. They beat us 3-2 last year and we knew we’d be tested. We want to play our best soccer at the end of the season so this game was designed to get our feet wet and get the kids used to playing with each other at this level.”

Bemidji 4, Little Falls 3

Little Falls 0 3 — 3

Bemidji 1 3 — 4

First Half

B-Mitchell (Schussman) 7:11

Second Half

B-Schussman (Spry) 49:56

B-Schussman (Spry) 51:28

LF-Bell (unassisted) 63:20

B-Johnson (Christofferson) 68:50

LF-Zonco (Bell) 71:00

LF-McCall (unassisted) 79:40

Saves - Hanowski (LF) 9; Cheney (B) 11

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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