Brady Riley fired a second-half hat trick and Noah Meyer added a brace of goals to pace Bemidji boys soccer to a comprehensive 8-0 win at conference foe East Grand Forks on Monday evening.
The win was the Jacks’ 10th of the season, a mark the team had not reached in a year since 2019. Their road to the result came with an initial adjustment period to the Green Wave’s crowded and high defensive line, which resulted in several patient attacks that went without payoff–including a curling strike off the crossbar by Isaac Stone.
Meyer opened the scoring after 17 minutes by reaching a line-splitting ball from Riley. He rounded EGF goalkeeper Parker Nolte before converting on his own rebound after a sliding save off the line by a defender denied the initial shot.
The Lumberjacks continued to patiently seek openings during the first half, finding another one in the 31st minute. Austin Riewer picked up possession at the corner of the 18-yard box, then zipped a low cross to the back post for a first-time strike from Thomas Harris. It was the second goal in as many games for the senior, who had notched his first varsity goal at Detroit Lakes on Saturday.
Challenged to step up their level of play and pressure in the second half, the Jacks embarked on a remarkable stretch of five goals in just over six minutes of play. Meyer started the salvo early in the 42nd minute with his second goal of the night–a poked effort that followed a twirling piece of control to settle Nick Rautio’s corner kick.
It took less than a minute for the Jacks to find a fourth goal on Riley’s first of the night–a sweetly struck volley on the left foot after controlling an EGF clearance in the penalty area.
Stone got in on the act in the 45th minute with a quick strike through the Green Wave defense for his team-leading 22nd goal of the season. The goal also marked an outstanding nine consecutive matches with a tally for the junior striker, with 17 total goals scored in that span.
The Lumberjacks pushed the lead to 6-0 two minutes later by way of an own goal turned in by the East Grand Forks defense following an excellent through ball by Lincoln Schmitt and subsequent cross from Al Toward.
Riley struck again just a minute later to conclude the wild scoring spree off another volleyed effort amid attempts to clear the area.
The Lumberjacks continued to seek out chances despite a large amount of lineup rotation in the second half, but they rounded off the scoreline with nine minutes remaining by way of Riley’s third tally of the night. He managed to reach a bouncing throw in from Reed Johnson, then clipped a tight-angle finish off the hands of Nolte.
The three goals doubled Riley’s overall season tally to six, while Meyer tallied his fourth and fifth goals of the year.
Kellen Heuer was required to make just one save in net for Bemidji’s eighth clean sheet of the season.
The Jacks improve to 10-2-3 with the win and finish the 2023 season a perfect 5-0 in Lakes to Prairie Conference play. They will be off until their final regular season match–a home contest with Alexandria on Saturday at 1pm at Bemidji State’s Chet Anderson Stadium. Pregame is scheduled for 12:45 on The BUN Sportsradio 104.5 and Lumberjacks1 at kbunfmsite.wpengine.com.
Postgame interview with Bemidji head coach Rick Toward: