WOMEN'S SOCCER: Bemidji State’s Sara Wendt proving lethal on the attack
Bemidji State senior Sara Wendt is tied for fifth in Division II with nine goals on the young season. Wendt's motivation, however, remains firmly fixed on all that the Beavers are trying to accomplish together.
BEMIDJI -- There are the necessary attributes like footwork, strength and speed.
But the anatomy of what makes Sara Wendt so dangerous with the ball isn’t just physical. It’s all that you can’t quantify or diagram.
“She has a big frame, she’s strong and she’s a lot faster than people think,” said Bemidji State women’s soccer head coach Jim Stone. “But there’s a big mentality piece to scoring goals. … She just has an incredible work rate, a love for the game and a desire to excel.”
With all those weapons at her disposal, Wendt has drummed up a scorching-hot start to her senior season. The Arden Hills native has produced nine goals in seven games, which ranks fifth in all of Division II. And her five game-winning goals are tied for No. 1 in the country.
Quite simply, she’s one of the biggest threats in the nation right now.
“I’m not the most skilled person out there, but I definitely can be the hardest worker,” Wendt said. “As a player, I try to work as hard as I can. I try to be where the ball is. Mainly it’s my team, though. They’re really the reason I’m scoring these goals: They’re setting me up really well.”
Wendt redirected all praise toward her teammates, many of whom have assisted her goals in the young stages of the season. To her, it’s about the program, not the person.
“My team is what gets me to where I need to be,” Wendt said. “It’s a cool thing to (have), but I’d rather have the team win than me get all the accolades.”
Even so, the run Wendt is on is undeniable. Wendt has four braces so far this year, which includes three straight two-goal performances during victories over Northern Michigan, Northern State and Minnesota State Moorhead.
“She’s on quite a goal-scoring run,” Stone said. “Last spring, I think she had 11 goals in 10 games for us. The year before that, she had had 10 in 20. … The fact that she’s banging in goals isn’t surprising, but maybe how many went in was a little bit surprising.”
BSU’s success is no surprise to the team, though. The Beavers are 6-0-1 overall and 3-0-1 in NSIC play, rising to No. 13 in the latest national poll. They’re unbeaten in their past 12 regular-season matches, which dates back to 2019, and haven’t lost a regular-season match at Chet Anderson Stadium since 2016.
“We want to make a run in the NCAA Tournament,” Stone said. “We want to push that envelope and see if we can take it further than we have in the past. Sara’s a big piece of that. At the same time, we’re really trying to build that team identity.”
“I’m really proud of my team and how much we’ve gone through,” Wendt added. “We all want to play as well as we possibly can, so starting off this strong is more of an accolade to how hard we’ve worked and what is to come.”
All of those winning streaks will be put to the test this weekend, when Bemidji State is back home for the first time in conference play. BSU hosts Augustana at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1, and Wayne State at 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 3.
If the Beavers have their way this weekend, fans will catch a glimpse of what the team is building. And they might even witness a goal or two from Wendt.
“The end goal is to go as far as we can, whether it’s the conference tournament or the NCAA Tournament,” Wendt said. “There’s a lot of possibilities here. … Our theme this year is trust, so it’s mainly trusting my teammates to give me the ball and having them trust me that I’ll put it in the back of the net.”