BOYS SOCCER: Bemidji scores statement win over Apollo; scuffle ends match early
The Lumberjacks defeated the Eagles 4-2 at Chet Anderson Stadium, a statement victory over a Class AA team ranked third in the QRF.
BEMIDJI -- In search of a signature win against St. Cloud Apollo, the Bemidji High School boys soccer team put its John Hancock on Thursday night's match.
“That’s a quality team. They’re in the top 10,” BHS head coach Rick Toward said. “They’re a (Class) AA opponent, but they play a lot of our 3A opponents, and they do well against them. That’s a win that coaches will notice on our record when we submit for section seeding.”
The Lumberjacks defeated the Eagles 4-2 at Chet Anderson Stadium, a statement victory over a Class AA team ranked third in the QRF and sixth in the AP poll.
However, the game was marred in the closing moments. Just after Bemidji scored its fourth goal in the 78th minute -- a game-deciding play by all accounts -- frustrations boiled over. The physical game turned chippy, which led to hard fouls, shoving and ultimately an ugly scuffle in front of the benches.
Most of the St. Cloud Apollo bench spilled onto the field, and at least one Apollo player threw a punch. The center referee issued multiple red cards to the Eagles, including one to head coach Nasri Ali.
The officials ended the game there, with 1:49 left on the clock.
Bemidji escaped the fight without injury, Toward said.
“We talked about how important it is to be a team of class and to display and show class, regardless of the circumstances or situation you find yourself in,” Toward said of his postgame message to his players. “This is something that these kids are going to remember forever. They’ll remember the end of that game. We would never want to be a team that is remembered as a team like that.”
The game itself, though, was a doozy.
Bemidji (7-7-1) rocketed out to a 3-0 lead by the opening minutes of the second half, dominating possession and positioning on a lopsided field. Jacob Stanoch chased down a Will Greendahl boot and scored the opening goal in the 17th minute, and Brodie Price rocketed in another shot in the 26th.
And just out of the halftime break, Isaac Stone made it 3-0 with a close-range shot off precise passes from Bo Hofstad and Stanoch.
“All glory to God,” Stone said. “And it’s a team effort. We did well as a team, and I just was the one who happened to score the goal. It feels good.”
The 3-0 cushion was an important advantage, as it created plenty of separation against a team that still proved to be lethal.
“You’ve got to take advantage of the chances you create, and tonight we did,” said Toward, who also earned his 250th career win earlier this week. “The energy was there, the intensity was there. We were making good passes and good decisions, and it wound up working out.”
The Eagles (10-3) came back firing, though, scoring through Mason Schmitz in the 52nd minute and Sakariye Isse in the 66th minute.
All of a sudden, the 3-2 game was far too close for comfort -- especially with plenty of time on the clock. But the Lumberjacks buckled down, preventing any further damage and even countering in the 78th minute with Stone’s second goal.
“Huge relief,” Stone said. “I could feel them breathing down our backs the whole time. That was awesome to put that fourth one in.”
“(St. Cloud Apollo) has all the momentum. They’re pressing,” Toward added. “For Jacob and Isaac to combine again, put Isaac in behind and slot a ball home for us, that was really important and obviously sealed the game.”
The game served as the Jacks’ home finale, and a 3 p.m. road trip to Alexandria on Saturday, Oct. 8, will close out the regular season. Section 8-3A Tournament seedings are expected to be announced on Monday.
Bemidji 4, St. Cloud Apollo 2
SCA 0 2 -- 2
BHS 2 2 -- 4
First half -- 1, BHS GOAL, Stanoch (Greendahl), 17’; 2, BHS GOAL, Price (Devescovi), 26’.
Second half -- 3, BHS GOAL, Stone (Stanoch), 45’; 4, SCA GOAL, Schmitz (S. Iman), 52’; 5, SCA GOAL, S. Isse (S. Iman), 66’; 6, BHS GOAL, Stone (Stanoch), 78’.
Saves -- Helm (BHS) 2; Hoel (SCA) 0; Coulter (SCA) 4.