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BOYS SOCCER: Bemidji, Comets combine for 10 goals in wild extra-time draw

All’s well that ends well, right? Not necessarily.

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Bemidji senior Jonathan Devescovi (11) moves toward the net to score during the first half against Hillcrest Lutheran Academy on Monday, Sept. 19, 2022, at Bemidji Middle School.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI – All’s well that ends well, right?

Not necessarily. The Bemidji High School boys soccer team entered its Monday matchup with Hillcrest Lutheran Academy at Bemidji Middle School looking for a win to put itself in pole position for a championship in the Lakes to Prairie Conference.

At the end of the day, the Lumberjacks are still in solid position for a conference crown. But after a wild, 5-5 extra-time tie against the Comets that saw the Jacks concede four goals in the first half, they were left wanting more.

“We knew that the chance to win a conference title was going to be decided today,” BHS head coach Rick Toward said. “I don't know if they were tired from Saturday. I don't know if it was nerves. I don't know if they're reading their press clippings and thinking, ‘Alright, this isn't going to be too tough.’”

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Bemidji sophomore Levi Renn (20) controls the ball during the first half against Hillcrest Lutheran Academy on Monday, Sept. 19, 2022, at Bemidji Middle School.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Toward didn’t approve of the way Bemidji (4-5-1) approached the game, noting the Lumberjacks seemed to underestimate the quality of their opponent.

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“We have to appreciate and respect (Hillcrest) and show up and play the game that we're capable of playing – rather than playing the game that we did, especially in the first half,” Toward said.
The Comets (3-3-1) streaked out to a 2-0 lead with two goals in the first eight minutes of action. BHS quickly countered with a score by Bo Hofstad in the 10th minute, then equalized with Jonathan Devescovi’s goal in the 21st.

But Hillcrest had more to give, retaking a 3-2 advantage in the 22nd minute. Moments later, Devescovi drew a penalty in the box and buried the corresponding penalty kick – notching the Bemidji senior a brace and marking the third goal scored within three minutes of game clock.

The Comets finished the first half on top 4-3 thanks to a score by Abram Ness – his second of the contest – in the 32nd minute.

092122.S.BP.BHSBSOC2 Reed Johnson.jpg
Bemidji sophomore Reed Johnson (19) fights for control of the ball during the second half against Hillcrest Lutheran Academy on Monday, Sept. 19, 2022, at Bemidji Middle School.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

“We can't wait until halftime,” Toward said. “We have to have people on the field that are going to be able to step in and make the adjustments that need to be made.”

The Jacks did perform better after the halftime break. Jacob Stanoch procured another equalizer in the 68th minute, leveling the score at 4-4, then Bemidji constantly pressured the Hillcrest backline down the stretch. They couldn’t get the winner, though, which sent the matchup to extra time.

In the second of two five-minute extra sessions, the Comets again retook the lead on an 87th minute score by Rolf Fluge, also his second of the game. Not to be denied, Stanoch and Devescovi teamed up for a last-ditch effort to save a point, with Stanoch burying a strike off Devescovi’s pass with 69 seconds left on the clock.

“I’m just happy we didn't get the loss,” Devescovi said. “But the tie is fine, I guess. The win is always nicer.”

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Bemidji senior Jacob Stanoch (5) moves the ball during the second half against Hillcrest Lutheran Academy on Monday, Sept. 19, 2022, at Bemidji Middle School.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

The final seconds ticked down without incident, and the Lumberjacks were stuck with a tie they weren’t thrilled with. But, as Devescovi noted, it could have been worse – and he enjoyed his new role as more of an attacking midfielder, where he played a crucial role in preventing the loss.

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“I actually enjoyed it a lot,” Devescovi said. “Being up top, making those runs side to side, kind of being the go-to guy. It's a new role, but I liked it. It was fun.”

Connor Helm finished with three saves in goal for Bemidji, while Hillcrest’s Cole Peterson collected five.

BHS returns to the pitch against Moorhead at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 22, in Moorhead.

Bemidji 5, Hillcrest Lutheran Academy 5

HLA 4 0 0 1 – 5

BHS 3 1 0 1 – 5

First half – 1, HLA GOAL, Ostevold (Gjerme), 4’; 2, HLA GOAL, Ness (Boe), 8’; 3, BHS GOAL, Hofstad (Price), 10’; 4, BHS GOAL, Devescovi (DeGeus), 21’; 5, HLA GOAL, Fluge (unassisted), 22’; 6, BHS GOAL, Devescovi (PK), 23’; 7, HLA GOAL, Ness (Gjerme), 32’.

Second half – 8, BHS GOAL, Stanoch (Rautio), 68’.

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First overtime – No scoring.

Second overtime – 9, HLA GOAL, Fluge (Ness), 87’; 10, BHS GOAL, Stanoch (Devescovi), 89’

Saves – Helm (BHS) 3; Cole Peterson (HLA) 5.

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Bemidji sophomore Charlie Zellmann (2) fights for the ball during the second half against Hillcrest Lutheran Academy on Monday, Sept. 19, 2022, at Bemidji Middle School.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
092122.S.BP.BHSBSOC2 Bo Hofstad.jpg
Bemidji senior Bo Hofstad (21) goes for the ball during the second half against Hillcrest Lutheran Academy on Monday, Sept. 19, 2022, at Bemidji Middle School.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
092122.S.BP.BHSBSOC2 Lincoln Schmitt.jpg
Bemidji sophomore Lincoln Schmitt (12) controls the ball during the second half against Hillcrest Lutheran Academy on Monday, Sept. 19, 2022, at Bemidji Middle School.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

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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