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GIRLS SOCCER: Bemidji spoils Otters upset bid in overtime

Bemidji High School senior Alyse Stone (6) blasts the ball toward the Fergus Falls goal in Saturday’s Section 8A quarterfinal game at Chet Anderson Stadium. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)1 / 2
Bemidji High School junior Sam Hansen (4) controls the ball in a Section 8A quarterfinal game against Fergus Falls on Saturday at Chet Anderson Stadium. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)2 / 2

BEMIDJI -- Behind by a goal for 42 minutes, junior Emma Dean lined up for a corner kick with time ticking away from the Lumberjacks’ shot at another Section 8A title.

“Emma took a second,” Bemidji head coach Logan Larsen said. “She composed herself rather than rushing it, because the last however many minutes of the game, we’d been rushing it. She just slowed down and placed it, so it was a very smart, composed moment for Emma.”

The corner kick cross curled into the six-yard box. Fergus Falls keeper Svea Smedstad misplayed the shot, and it found its way into the net to tie the game at 1-all with 1:58 left in regulation.

Just 56 seconds into overtime, the comeback win was complete, as junior Lindsey Hildenbrand laced the golden goal into the upper left corner of the net to give the Bemidji High School girls soccer team a 2-1 overtime win over Fergus Falls in the Section 8A quarterfinals Saturday at Chet Anderson Stadium.

“I’m unbelievably excited, especially for the seniors,” Dean said. “It was so awesome to win for them.”

Despite an overwhelming possession imbalance in favor of the Lumberjacks (12-4-2) throughout the game, it was the Otters (7-9-2) who struck first when Miranda Hoffman redirected a Mady Eklund corner kick into the BHS net late in the first half.

The Bemidji attack was relentless through the final 40 minutes of regulation, but they couldn’t find a way to finish.

“I think towards the end we started getting really panicky, like, ‘We need to go, we need a goal right now,’” Hildenbrand said. “Sometimes we’d play the ball just a little too hard because we wanted to get it all the way through, but in the end, we said we just need to have fun. If this is the last game, we need to have fun doing it.”

With the Jacks’ hope shrinking by the minute, their desperation sparked another gear in their offense, and it proved to be the difference in the game

“They turned up the effort,” Larsen said. “I hope when I put this game online for them to watch, I hope they watch it and say, ‘All right, that’s the effort we have to have every game from here on.’”

Once the Lumberjacks tied the game with the Dean corner kick, the momentum they had been building throughout the game carried them forward to a quick overtime finish.

The final play started with Dean, as well, and she booted a long ball to Hildenbrand, who played it into the air before heading it on to Aliya Berard.

Berard, who was in at center forward as a result of a Larsen formation adjustment, played one off an Otter defender back to Hildenbrand to wallop a left-footed shot destined for the top left corner of the net.

“It was just so overwhelming,” Hildenbrand said. “We had so many chances and we couldn’t finish at first, but thank goodness we got that one at the end (of regulation). We’ll take it. It was so much fun.”

With the Lumberjacks victory, they earn a trip to the Section 8A semifinals, where they will host St. Cloud Cathedral (10-5-2), a team they beat 2-1 in their second game of the year. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 16, at Bemidji Middle School.

“I’ll look at the video from the last game,” said Larsen. “What I expect is that we bring a much better attack than we did last time. They’re a solid team, so when we look at the second half (tonight) where we kind of turned it on, that’s how we’re going to have to play against Cathedral the entire game.”

Bemidji 2, Fergus Falls 1 (OT)

BEM 0 1 1 -- 2

FF 1 0 0 -- 1

First Half -- 1, FF GOAL, Hoffman (Eklund) 36’.

Second Half -- 2, BEM GOAL, Dean (Corner Kick) 78’.

Overtime -- 3, BEM GOAL, Hildenbrand (Berard) 81’.