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SOCCER: BSU set to face Minot State in NCAA regional

BSU sophomore Allyson Smith goes after the ball in practice on Thursday at Chet Anderson Stadium. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)1 / 3
BSU assistant soccer coach Ryszard Gorski, right, gives direction during practice on Thursday at Chet Anderson Stadium. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)2 / 3
BSU junior Melanie Peltier passes the ball in practice on Thursday at Chet Anderson Stadium. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)3 / 3

BEMIDJI -- Bemidji State is back in the NCAA Tournament.

The program’s inaugural appearance ended in a penalty-kick shootout in a first-round match against Augustana.

This time, the Beavers are hungry for more as the NCAA Division II Central Regional begins this weekend.

“I want it bad, and I know the other girls do, too,” said senior midfielder Dani Nelson. “It was exciting getting to the tournament last year, but this year we want to make a run. We definitely want to go further and we want to get a win.”

The team enters the tournament at 17-0-2, completing an unbeaten regular season for the second straight year.

“It’s exciting for us because it just shows that this program is taking another step into history,” said senior goalkeeper Anna Fobbe. “But like anything, we’re just going to be ready to play, just like any other game in the season.”

BSU won’t have to travel for the regional.

The program will host one half of the Central Regional bracket by virtue of its No. 2 seed. The Beavers will face seventh-seeded Minot State at 2 p.m. Friday, while No. 3 seed and defending national champion Central Missouri will meet No. 6 seed Augustana at 11 a.m.

With a forecasted high of 20 degrees and a chance of snow, BSU’s home-field advantage extends beyond their familiarity with Chet Anderson Stadium.

“A lot of the teams are used to playing in the cold, but some of them aren’t,” Nelson said. “It’s nice because we got some snow for them and they get to play in the coldness.”

Thursday’s snow gave the teams a chance to practice in wintry conditions. BSU head coach Jim Stone said the weather may not play completely in the Beavers’ favor.

“We have a lot of speed and a lot of technical ability, so you could make an argument that it hurts us,” Stone said. “But I think overall being at home is going to have its advantages. We’re a hearty, tough group so hopefully it’ll play into our favor.”

Bemidji State’s first-round opponent is a familiar one.

BSU met the Beavers of Minot State in a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference match Oct. 5 in North Dakota. Rachael Norton scored a goal and assisted on two others in a 3-0 BSU win.

Behind Norton, MiSU midfielder Sofia Lewis finished second in the league in goals with 16, three behind Norton.  

Minot State (13-5-3) has been on a roll as of late. MiSU reached the NSIC Tournament final, only to fall, 1-0, to Minnesota State.

“They have some really skilled kids who can score goals, and they knock the ball around pretty well,” Stone said. “We’re know that they’re going to be highly motivated and it’s going to be a challenge.”

A BSU win would advance them to Sunday’s second-round match at Chet Anderson Stadium against either Central Missouri or Augustana.

The Beavers aren’t ready to hang up their cleats yet.

“We know it could anybody’s last game,” Nelson said. “So I think our team’s just going to go out there and give it our all. We want to make a good run in the tournament. We’re ready to play.”

If you go

Who: BSU vs. Minot State

What: NCAA Tourn. First Round

Where: Chet Anderson Stadium

When: 2 p.m. Friday

Radio: Beaver Radio Network

Web: portal.stretchinternet.com/bsu/

Austin Monteith

Austin Monteith is a sports reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer. He is an Illinois native and a Butler University graduate. Follow him on Twitter @amonteith92.

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