GIRLS SOCCER: Wright strikes for Jacks in game-winning debut

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The Lumberjacks celebrate Emma Wright’s game-winning goal against St. Cloud Apollo on Tuesday at Chet Anderson Stadium. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI -- With a backdrop of lightning flashes across Lake Bemidji, the stage was set for Emma Wright’s dramatic debut.

The sophomore forward -- one of the many new faces on the Bemidji High School girls soccer team -- stepped up in the clutch with a game-winning goal in Tuesday’s season-opening, 2-1 victory over St. Cloud Apollo at Chet Anderson Stadium.

“It’s kind of like my dream came true,” Wright said. “Your first varsity game and you get a goal.”

Making it all the more special was the fact that she didn’t even think she’d see the field.

“I wasn’t expecting to play,” Wright said. “I had already played the game before on JV, and I was thinking I’d be sitting varsity. But (head coach Logan Larsen) ended up playing me.”


It certainly turned out to be a wise managerial decision, but it wasn’t a hard one for Larsen.

“She’s definitely one player where you don’t worry about effort at any time,” he said. “I don’t think it makes a difference to her whether she’s playing JV or varsity. It’s going to be 100% go, go, go with Emma. She’s reliable in that sense. The more we refine her into the team aspect, the more useful she’ll even become.”

The goal itself came in the 67th minute, when a consistent BHS attack had stalled out into monotony. But Josie Aitken created a chance by beating a defender along the touchline and sending a through ball for Wright to chase down.

Wright and Eagles goalkeeper Megan Vasek were in a footrace, converging on the ball near the top of the 18-yard box, and Wright won by a hair. She poked it loose, took a few steps in and had a wide-open net to shoot into.

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Bemidji sophomore Emma Wright (12) makes her way around St. Cloud Apollo keeper Megan Vasek (97) to score the game-winning goal Tuesday at Chet Anderson Stadium. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

“I was really thinking, ‘Don’t bomb it over. Because if you bomb it over, no one’s going to forget it,’” Wright said. “But it was a great feeling. I wasn’t expecting to tap it away from the goalie, but I ended up tapping it away, and there was an open net. I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve got to shoot this.’”

Wright’s score helped salvage a game that wasn’t as clean as it could have been from the Lumberjacks.


Bemidji (1-0) applied good pressure early, but it was St. Cloud Apollo (0-2) who struck in the 11th minute. Kylie Mondloch sent in a free kick from about 40 yards out, sneaking the ball through a crowd and bending it in around new BHS keeper Jody Pemberton.

In the 16th minute, dark clouds rolled over the stadium and caused a 58-minute lightning delay. After the storm finally passed, Peyton Oelrich didn’t need long for the equalizer.

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A storm passing through Bemidji caused a lightning delay in Tuesday’s game against St. Cloud Apollo. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

The senior stalwart fired in a ball from the corner of the 18-yard box in the 24th minute, which squeaked past Vasek and brought relief to the Lumberjack sideline.

“I think we needed that lightning break. It almost helped us,” Larsen said. “We needed to calm down. We were playing with energy when we came out, but there was no direction with it. That helped us hit the reset button.”

After a 1-1 score at the half, Bemidji finally broke through thanks to Wright. She proved that, although she wasn’t expecting to play, she was sure ready to go.

“I pray a lot. I pray to God,” she said of preparing on short notice. “And I just try my best all the time. … It’s fun to see how far we could go with this new team.”


BHS will be back on the pitch at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 3, at St. Cloud Tech.

Bemidji 2, St. Cloud Apollo 1

SCA 1 0 -- 1

BHS 1 1 -- 2

First half -- 1, SCA GOAL, Mondloch (unassisted) 11’; 2, BHS GOAL, Oelrich (unassisted) 24’.

Second half -- 3, BHS GOAL, Wright (Aitken) 67’.

Saves -- Pemberton (BHS) 1; Nelson (BHS) 2; Vasek (SCA) 8.


Micah Friez is the former sports editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. A native of East Grand Forks, Minn., he worked at the Pioneer from 2015-23 and is a 2018 graduate of Bemidji State University with a degree in Creative and Professional Writing.
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