Isabel Renn, Lily Paquette, and Makayla Meza all scored and Bemidji secured its fifth clean sheet in six matches to defeat Brainerd 3-0 to complete a first-ever girls soccer season sweep of the Warriors on Thursday at the Bemidji Middle School.
After pulling out a 1-0 win in the teams’ first meeting the previous Saturday, the Jacks found themselves in a more open game during the first half five days later. Each team produced a series of opportunities during the first several minutes, and goalkeeper Clara Bieber had to be alert to shut down a scramble inside the penalty area off a long Brainerd throw.
The initial activity threatening each goal settled down during the middle stretch of the first half, though Bemidji had found itself creating the best of the opportunities with good spells of possession.
Just as had occurred on Saturday, it was the Lumberjacks who struck first–this time deep into the first half, as Renn sweetly struck a skimmed header by Kate Corradi off a Tahia Hatlen free kick in the 38th minute.
Brainerd ramped up the intensity in the second half and limited possession to short bursts for the suddenly defensive Jacks. But in spite of the growing urgency from the Warriors, Bieber saw very little in the way of true shots on goal and joined her backline in handling the pressure smoothly.
The final 15 minutes of the match saw Bemidji’s collective freshness pay off with chances to attack on the counter, nearly producing a goal for Ella Willford after Warrior goalkeeper Chloe Patrick had spilled a shot into her path.
A piece of inventive finishing from Paquette in the 78th minute ensured Bemidji would seal the result. The senior was played into the right side of the 18-yard box by Corradi before lobbing a brilliant finish over Patrick into the far corner.
There was still just enough time left for Bemidji to win a penalty with exactly 1:01 remaining after Liv Thompson was fouled chasing a loose ball after another surge of pressure. Meza strode forward from her centerback position and calmly fired past Patrick from the spot to complete the scoreline.
Bieber’s five saves ensured yet another clean sheet for the Lumberjacks–their sixth overall this season. The win was Bemidji’s fourth in five matches dating back to 2021 against Brainerd and just its fifth overall in the teams’ series since 2008.
Postgame interview with Bemidji head coach Logan Larsen:
NOTE: Bemidji followed up Thursday’s result with a 4-1 loss at home against Duluth East on Friday. Meza converted a second-half penalty for the Jacks’ lone tally, as Bemidji drops to 8-6 overall.