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GIRLS SOCCER: Bemidji beats Moorhead with 2nd-half rally for season's 1st win

After generating just one shot on goal in the first half, the Lumberjacks (1-3-1) roared to life in the second, punching in two goals in a seven-minute span to earn a 2-0 win, their first of the season.

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The Lumberjacks celebrate after defeating Moorhead 2-0 for their first win of the season on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021, at Chet Anderson Stadium. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI -- It was a slow, sleepy start to the game for the Bemidji High School girls soccer team -- and its opponent, Moorhead -- Thursday night at Chet Anderson Stadium.

But after generating just one shot on goal in the first half, the Lumberjacks roared to life in the second, punching in two goals in a seven-minute span to earn a 2-0 win, their first of the season.

“I think it kind of started at the back,” head coach Logan Larsen said. “Last few games, we've had to work on our defense. From there, we talked about our center (midfielders) being involved and how they connect and how they're outlets to switch the field. And then finally, we're at the point where we've built up to that final third and turning them into goals.”

Senior defender Isabel Grospe kicked off the scoring for BHS (1-3-1) with a high-arcing shot over extended Moorhead goalkeeper Ella Rice in the 49th minute. In the 55th minute, forward Emma Wright took a Lauren Berg pass and zipped it past the diving Rice to put the Spuds down two.

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Bemidji senior Isabel Grospe (9) receives a pass in the second half against Moorhead on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021, at Chet Anderson Stadium. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

Moorhead failed to threaten Bemidji from there, struggling to create chances against the Jacks’ stout back line. The Spuds generated one more shot on goal, but it was not a significant threat to reach the back of the net.

Larsen said looping the ball over and around Rice as she extended from the goal was not a specific part of the Jacks' strategy, but it was effective enough to earn them two scores and nearly a third later in the second half.

“It wasn't drawn out, we weren't telling our defenders to take long shots because the keeper was out,” he said. “But I think Izzy was willing to take that shot, and she's got a (good) foot, so she took it. I was happy with how (center midfielder) Marah Bitter read the game. She recognized that, she chipped (the ball at the net), but it was just a couple feet wide.”

The energy of the year’s first win is an asset Larsen plans to use in practice moving forward, but he warned his players not to get too high after their first taste of triumph.

“The postgame talk was, 'That's awesome. We're proud of you, but we still have to build from here,'” Larsen said. “So still break down the footage, see where we could have gotten more goals, see where we could have covered space better, players, everything. So it's just still staying hungry, not being satisfied with just this one.”

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Bemidji junior Marah Bitter (20) passes the ball in the second half against Moorhead on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021, at Chet Anderson Stadium. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

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The way the Lumberjacks involved their outside midfielders in the offense was a point of emphasis for BHS.

“We finally are tying in our outside mids to be part of the attack,” he said. “So not only outlets so we can build, but then also creating them into, if not goal scorers, at least creating assists, or getting the ball in front of the goal for us.”

The marrying of each third of the Jacks’ structure paid off in Thursday’s win. How they unlock their team’s full attacking potential will determine how many more victories they tally.

Bemidji's next opportunity for a win comes on the road at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 18, against St. Cloud Cathedral.

Bemidji 2, Moorhead 0

MHD 0 0 -- 0

BHS 0 2 -- 2

First half -- No scoring.

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Second half -- 1, BHS GOAL, Grospe, 49’; 2, BHS GOAL, Wright (Berg), 55’.

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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