Bo Hofstad’s 38th-minute goal pulled Bemidji boys soccer within one late in the first half, but a late Sartell penalty kick dropped the Lumberjacks to a season-opening 3-1 defeat at Sartell High School on Friday afternoon.
A relatively tentative opening 15 minutes with almost no chances for both Section 8AAA teams was followed by a sudden breakthrough for the Sabres. The Lumberjacks were caught in possession attempting to play out of the back, leading to a quick break and an eventual rebounded finish for Charlie Lindell in the 16th minute.
Another Bemidji defensive turnover in the 25th minute was punished on the break, this time after a save from Lumberjack goalkeeper Connor Helm. His parry was eventually followed up by Ethan McClellan, who finished into the vacated net at close range to double Sartell’s lead.
Despite relatively few chances created, the Lumberjacks pulled a goal back with just two minutes remaining until halftime. Jonathan Devescovi’s driving run on the left flank produced a cutback pass for Hofstad, who struck a near-post effort that brought Bemidji within a goal going into halftime.
The Lumberjacks started sharply in possession to begin the second half, but still saw Sartell produce better chances in the early minutes. Helm was called into action to shut down another chance for Lindell inside the penalty area.
At the other end, Jacob Stanoch fashioned a good chance from the edge of the 18-yard box but could not keep it from rising over the bar.
Sartell wrapped up the result just 10 minutes from the final whistle when Lindell beat a pair of defenders on another driving run into the area before being tripped from behind to draw a penalty.
Kyle Fisher stepped forward for the spot kick, slipping a low effort left off Helm’s diving hand to secure a 3-1 lead.
The Lumberjacks will return to the field on Tuesday with a visit to Crookston. Kickoff has been moved to 5:45pm, with pregame now airing 20 minutes prior on KBUN+ 100.1 and Lumberjacks2 at kbunsportsradio.com.
Postgame interview with Bemidji head coach Rick Toward: