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BOYS SOCCER: Moorhead quashes upset bid as Bemidji falls 1-0 in section semifinals

“It’s obviously disappointing,” longtime BHS head coach Rick Toward said. “This is my 28th year of saying goodbye to a group of seniors who see their season end by losing the last game of their careers.”

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Bemidji senior Tommy DeGues (15) battles for possession with Moorhead's Revar Qaqos during a Section 8-3A Tournament semifinal game against Moorhead on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022, in Moorhead.
Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service
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MOORHEAD -- Hugs from mere feet away were miles apart in meaning.

As Bemidji High School boys soccer teammates embraced on Tuesday night, so did Moorhead all around them.

The Spuds were enthusiastically celebrating a semifinal win in the Section 8-3A Tournament. And the Lumberjacks? Well, they were stuck consoling each other in the wake of a season-ending 1-0 loss in Moorhead.

“It’s obviously disappointing,” longtime BHS head coach Rick Toward said. “This is my 28th year of saying goodbye to a group of seniors who see their season end by losing the last game of their careers.”

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Bemidji senior Bo Hofstad (21) watches the ball during a Section 8-3A Tournament semifinal game against Moorhead on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022, in Moorhead.
Courtesy / Lainie Hiller Photography

Revar Qaqos scored for the top-seeded Spuds (14-3-1) on a brilliant header in the third minute, capitalizing on a corner kick for what ultimately proved to be the game-winner. Already entering as the underdog, fifth-seeded Bemidji had to play from behind all night.

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“When you come in as the underdog, you don’t have the expectations and pressure,” Toward said. “They took the pressure off themselves very early by getting that first goal. They got to play with the lead for the rest of the game, so we wound up chasing.”

The Jacks did have their chances. Jonathan Devescovi had the closest opportunity, finding the ball at his feet from the edge of the 6-yard box but getting his shot blocked by a sliding tackle in the 15th minute.

As desperation crept in, Jacob Stanoch had a quality look in the 74th minute and beat the keeper with a curler from outside the 18-yard box, but his shot sailed about six inches wide of the far post.

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Bemidji senior Jacob Stanoch (5) heads the ball during a Section 8-3A Tournament semifinal game against Moorhead on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022, in Moorhead.
Courtesy / Lainie Hiller Photography

Those, mixed with corners and free kicks in promising positions, all signified windows to draw level. But the equalizer never found the netting.

“Games like this, they’re always tight. The number of chances you’re going to get are going to be few,” Toward said. “We created enough chances to put one in, we just obviously didn’t put one in.”

The season always seems to end all too soon, but any eulogy carries silver linings. That’s also true for a Bemidji team that won just four games in 2021 and was 4-7-1 entering the home stretch this fall. A five-match win streak that stretched into the playoffs clinched the program's first winning season since 2019.

“If you consider where this team was at the beginning of the season and where they wound up, there’s big improvement. For the future of this team, it’s very bright,” Toward said. “This team progressed very well, so we’re very pleased with that. There’s room to improve, as there always is and always will be, but they took a big step tonight.”

The Lumberjacks finish the season with a 9-8-1 record and graduate seven seniors in Tommy DeGeus, Zeke Graf, Will Greendahl, Bo Hofstad, Brodie Price, Devescovi and Stanoch.

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Bemidji sophomore Connor Helm (1) blocks a Moorhead shot during a Section 8-3A Tournament semifinal game against the Spuds on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022, in Moorhead.
Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service

Moorhead 1, Bemidji 0

BHS 0 0 -- 0

MHD 1 0 -- 1

First half -- 1, MHD GOAL, Qaqos (Namuq), 3’.

Second half -- No scoring.

Saves -- Helm (BHS) 6; Songstad (MHD) 2.

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Bemidji sophomore Isaac Stone (8) jumps to control the ball during a Section 8-3A Tournament semifinal game against Moorhead on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022, in Moorhead.
Courtesy / Lainie Hiller Photography
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Bemidji sophomore Brady Riley (7) possesses the ball during a Section 8-3A Tournament semifinal game against Moorhead on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022, in Moorhead.
Courtesy / Lainie Hiller Photography
102222.S.BP.BHSBSOC Connor Helm.jpg
Bemidji sophomore Connor Helm dives to make a save during a Section 8-3A Tournament semifinal game against Moorhead on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022, in Moorhead.
Courtesy / Lainie Hiller Photography
102222.S.BP.BHSBSOC Tommy DeGeus.jpg
Bemidji senior Tommy DeGeus (15) wins possession of the ball during a Section 8-3A Tournament semifinal game against Moorhead on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022, in Moorhead.
Courtesy / Lainie Hiller Photography

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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