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BOYS SOCCER: Lumberjacks overwhelm Crookston as 9 players score in 11-0 shutout

With BHS (2-6) already up 8-0 in the second half, Zane Hiller nearly scored a ninth. He failed on his attempt in the box, but a penalty was called, sending Bemidji to the penalty spot. Hiller could have taken the kick, but he selflessly gave it up to his twin brother Casey.

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Bemidji senior Reece Melville (16) kicks in a goal in the first half against Crookston on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, at Bemidji Middle School. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI -- A blowout win was the overall story for the Bemidji High School boys soccer team Saturday against Crookston, as the Lumberjacks raced out to a 3-0 lead within 10 minutes and built it steadily to win 11-0 at Bemidji Middle School.

But the game’s best moment came when the outcome of the contest was no longer in doubt. With BHS (2-6) already up 8-0 in the second half, Zane Hiller nearly scored a ninth. He failed on his attempt in the box, but a penalty was called, sending Bemidji to the penalty spot. Hiller could have taken the kick, but he selflessly gave it up to his twin brother Casey.

Casey stepped up and knocked the ball into the left top corner for his first varsity goal. It would have been the first varsity goal for either twin, but Zane said it was an easy decision to bequeath the opportunity to his brother.

“He's not gonna score again,” Zane said of Casey. “He doesn't play up (near the goal). In fact, the reason he started playing defense is because he was, in youth soccer, incapable of putting the ball on frame. So I figured he had to take his chance when he could get it.”

As backhanded as that assessment was, the essence of Zane’s gesture was giving his brother an opportunity he might not get again in his high school career. Both Hillers are seniors, and Casey receives fewer opportunities to score because of his positioning on the field.

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“I feel like I can put myself out there and in place to score more often than he can,” Zane said. “So I’ve got to let him take the chance when he's got a pretty good shot at it.”

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Bemidji junior Jonathan Devescovi (11) takes a shot in the first half against Crookston on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, at Bemidji Middle School. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

Casey, for his part, was fully appreciative of the rare opening to score. There was no backhandedness in his reaction to the goal.

“It's a whole bunch of brotherly love,” Casey said. “I've been doing this stuff with him (for) as long as I can remember. I was in the backyard playing with him. Meant a lot for him to step up and say, 'Hey, you can take my shot for me.'"

After the conversion, the Lumberjacks led 9-0. But instead of trying to pad the total himself, Casey started to look for Zane, including on an opportunity later in the half where Casey was nearly one-on-one with the Crookston goalkeeper.

“Every single ball I got, I was trying to slot back in and I was looking for him,” Casey said. “I was looking for the feet, looking for the head, looking for a way for him to get it in the back of the net.”

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Bemidji junior Jacob Stanoch (20) fires a shot toward the Crookston goalkeeper in the first half on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, at Bemidji Middle School. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

Nine different BHS players scored goals Saturday. Zane Hiller said Bemidji is sharing the wealth this year in an attempt to maximize production from its players.

“People are, a lot more this year than last year, looking out there to give the ball up so we can win as a team. Less (so) winning for themselves,” Zane said. “… It means that we can put, hopefully, a lot more numbers in the W column, because we're working for each other a lot more than we did at the start of the season, and that's how you win games.”

Five Lumberjacks scored their first varsity goals Saturday, including Jonathan Devescovi (8’), Bo Hofstad (32’), Jacob Stanoch (46’), Casey Hiller (60’) and Will Greendahl (64’).

Also on the scoresheet for Bemidji were Reece Melville (7’, 35’), Noah Johnson (9’, 28’), Brodie Price (38’) and Max Harris (80’).

Winning games has been a struggle for BHS this season, but the team has now triumphed in two of its last three. Head coach Rick Toward said that while the wins haven’t always been there, he has seen progress in the way the Jacks have attacked opponents. Now, his team has a boost of confidence to power it forward as it strives to continually improve.

“There hasn't been a ton of glory,” Toward said. “Coming into this game, we had one win, but we had some of those cliched moral victories against quality opponents, but not quite getting there. … The things that we talked about pregame, I saw improvement in what we wanted to see, but still, room to grow.”

Bemidji returns to the pitch at 4 p.m. Monday, Sept. 20, on the road against Hillcrest Lutheran Academy.

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Bemidji 11, Crookston 0

CRK 0 0 -- 0

BHS 7 4 -- 11

First half -- 1, BHS GOAL, Melville (Devescovi), 7’; 2, BHS GOAL, Devescovi (R. Johnson), 8’; 3, BHS GOAL, N. Johnson (Stanoch), 9’; 4, BHS GOAL, N. Johnson (Price), 28’; 5, BHS GOAL, Hofstad (R. Johnson), 32’; 6, BHS GOAL, Melville (R. Johnson), 35’; 7, BHS GOAL, Price (Z. Hiller), 38’.

Second half -- 8, BHS GOAL, Stanoch (Rautio), 46’; 9, BHS GOAL, C. Hiller (PK), 60’; 10, BHS GOAL, Greendahl (Z. Hiller), 64’; 11, BHS GOAL, Harris (R. Johnson), 80’.

Christian Babcock is a sports reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer. He trekked to Bemidji from his hometown of Campbell, Calif., after graduating from the Cronkite School at Arizona State University in 2021. Follow him on Twitter at @CB_Journalist for updates on the Lumberjacks and Beavers or to suggest your favorite local restaurant.
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