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WOMEN’S SOCCER: Unbeaten Beavers win NSIC regular season championship

Bemidji State women’s soccer players freely shared the NSIC regular season championship trophy with each other on Friday, but no one outside the program was about to get their hands on it. This thing belonged to the Beavers.

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The Beavers celebrate with their NSIC regular season championship trophy after defeating Minnesota Crookston on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, at Chet Anderson Stadium. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)
Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI -- Allyson Smith held it high. Then she passed it to Megan Dahl, who did the same. Emma Mortensen took her turn next, all to the mighty roar of teammates around them.

Bemidji State women’s soccer players freely shared their NSIC regular season championship trophy with each other on Friday, but no one outside the program was about to get their hands on it. This thing belonged to the Beavers.

“It’s been a long couple of years since we last did it,” Dahl said. “All the hard work in the past couple years… it made everything worth it to hold the trophy up at the end of the game.”

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The Beavers celebrate with their NSIC regular season championship trophy after defeating Minnesota Crookston on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, at Chet Anderson Stadium. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

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The award was so rightfully earned after an unbeaten regular season within a strong conference, especially with red-hot Minnesota State and Augustana teams breathing down their necks. No. 6 BSU finished it off with a 5-0 win over Minnesota Crookston at Chet Anderson Stadium, which also clinched the second NSIC regular season title in program history.

“There are bigger things in life, more important things going on in our world. But in our little world, this is important,” Bemidji State head coach Jim Stone said. “It’s hard to put into words, but yeah, it means a lot. All glory to God.”

The Beavers (16-0-2, 13-0-2 NSIC) join their 2018 predecessors in summiting the Northern Sun standings. Eight members of this year’s team were also part of that history, but the whole team can now fully grasp the significance of the feat.

“Coming in as a freshman, I didn’t really realize how (much) the conference championship meant,” defender Halle Peterson said. “Now as a junior, seeing it happen, it’s such a big deal. We’re so lucky to have this opportunity and be a part of this team.”

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Bemidji State senior Megan Dahl (9) scores in the second half against Minnesota Crookston on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, at Chet Anderson Stadium. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

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Bemidji State freshman Mason Schilling (16) boots the ball toward the Minnesota Crookston goal in the second half on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, at Chet Anderson Stadium. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

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Mason Schilling opened the scoring for BSU in the fourth minute, converting on what proved to be the game-winning goal. The match was over by then, as Bemidji State outshot UMC 52-2 and boasted a 23-1 advantage in shots on goal.

Waiting 86 more minutes before celebrating was the agonizing part.

“When we scored the first goal, all I was thinking was, ‘Well, we still have almost a full game to play,’” Peterson said. “But honestly, it was really fun to take those last 85, 86 minutes of the game after that first goal and have fun. … It was really cool to share the experience with the whole team.”

Sara Wendt also scored before halftime, turning on a blind swivel from the top of the 18-yard box and sending a screamer into the top left corner.

In the second half, Peterson made it 3-0 in the 47th minute off a header. Emma Huelsnitz (53rd minute) and Dahl (86th) added the icing on the cake for the Beavers' largest margin of victory all season.

Now, BSU will focus on using the perks of the championship as much as possible. Bemidji State has home-field advantage through next week’s the NSIC Tournament, and hosting the Central Region tournament is also within reach.

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“We’re dreaming big,” Dahl said. “In a perfect world, we’d love to go all the way. And who knows? That can happen. We have the strength and ability to do it. It’s just one game at a time.”

“Even in the locker room just now, kind of putting a wrap on this, there were a few players who talked about what’s next,” Stone added. “We want this to be the beginning, not the end.”

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The Beavers celebrate with their NSIC regular season championship trophy after defeating Minnesota Crookston on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, at Chet Anderson Stadium. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

No. 6 Bemidji State 5, Minnesota Crookston 0

UMC 0 0 -- 0

BSU 2 3 -- 5

First half -- 1, BSU GOAL, Schilling (Becker, Wendt), 4’; 2, BSU GOAL, Wendt (Becker, Huelsnitz), 18’.

Second half -- 3, BSU GOAL, Peterson (unassisted), 47’; 4, BSU GOAL, Huelsnitz (Peterson), 53’; 5, BSU GOAL, Dahl (French), 86’.

Saves -- Stumbaugh (BSU) 0; Harber (BSU) 1; Frantzen (BSU) 0; Stempien (UMC) 16.

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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