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GIRLS SOCCER: Lumberjacks clinch repeat title in shootout

The Lumberjacks celebrate after winning a shootout in the Section 8A final against Sartell-St. Stephen on Thursday at Chet Anderson Stadium. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)1 / 4
Bemidji High School goalie Allison Beard stops the ball in a shootout against Sartell-St. Stephen in the Section 8A final on Thursday at Chet Anderson Stadium. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)2 / 4
Bemidji High School junior Jenna Jones (10) controls the ball in the Section 8A final against Sartell-St. Stephen on Thursday at Chet Anderson Stadium. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)3 / 4
Bemidji High School junior Emma Dean (11) drives the ball against Sartell-St. Stephen in the Section 8A final on Thursday at Chet Anderson Stadium. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)4 / 4

BEMIDJI -- Shooting from the penalty kick spot for the win, Katie Alto tucked the game winner in the corner of the net, sealing the Lumberjacks’ berth to the Class A state tournament for the second straight year.

After 80 minutes of regulation and two 10-minute overtimes ended with a 1-1 tie, the Section 8A Championship went to a shootout, and Bemidji executed nearly to perfection.

Harper Toward, Lindsey Hildenbrand, Alyse Stone and Alto each converted their shots, while BHS senior keeper Allison Beard went 2-for-3 on Sabres shooters.

“It’s been nearly a daily-basis occurrence for the last week or two,” BHS head coach Logan Larsen said of practicing penalty kicks. “We’ve practiced them a lot, so the thing I had to say before the shootout was, ‘OK, now you don’t have a keeper that knows where we all shoot,’ because obviously Allison and Abby both know where we’re going every time. I think they came into this with confidence, knowing if they just made that hard pass to the corner, we’re good.”

With less than four minutes left in the first half of the contest, Toward scored the game’s first goal, drilling a free kick 35 yards over the keeper and under the crossbar for a 1-0 lead going into the second half.

Jenna Eibes then answered with an unassisted goal six minutes into the second half with a snipe to the top right corner past BHS keeper Allison Beard.

Teams traded chances through the rest of the second half. Sartell’s Alexis Erikson-Murphy curved a shot headed for the upper right corner, but Beard made a leaping save, knocking it wide.

In the 67th minute, the Sabres cleared a Toward corner to Jenna Jones, who hit a strike on goal. The Sartell keeper spilled a rebound momentarily, but she gathered it before Lindsey Hildenbrand could bury the garbage goal.

Emma Dean and Alyse Stone each had chances in the waning minutes, Deans shot missing wide right from just outside the 18 and Stone’s free kick being caught by the keeper.

Bemidji edged the Sabres through the first overtime, and the momentum shifted to Sartell in the second, but neither team could bury the golden goal.

“It was frustrating that we didn’t finish the chances we had, but we pulled through in PKs, so just a very happy night,” Larsen said. “Some of the girls, especially the seniors, have worked hard for years and have helped this whole program develop. I’m just glad to see them get this.”

Bemidji will represent Section 8A in the state tournament, which begins Tuesday, Oct. 23. The time, date and opponent for the Jacks’ game have yet to be determined.

Bemidji 1, Sartell-St. Stephen 1 (BHS wins SO 4-1)

BEM 1 0 0 -- 1 (4)

SSS 0 1 0 -- 1 (1)

First Half: 1, BEM GOAL, Toward (Free Kick) 37’.

Second Half: 2, SSS GOAL, Eibes (Unassisted) 46’.

Overtime: No Scoring.

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