A five-goal outburst from senior Peyton Oelrich paved the way for North #4 seed Bemidji girls soccer to dominate #5N Hillcrest Lutheran 8-0 on Tuesday evening in a Section 8A first round playoff match at Chet Anderson Stadium.
Addy Kelly, Emma Wright, and Kate Martin also scored, with Sophia Morin and Wright each notching two assists for Bemidji.
The victory was the 13th straight in Section playoff play for the Lumberjacks, who were playing in their final home game of the season. The three-time defending Section 8A title winners got off to a quick start, with chances created early and often on the way to the opening goal.
An attack down the flank found Oelrich in the middle of the penalty area, where she was dispossessed before Kelly drove a lobbed strike over Hillcrest’s Emma Marfell to open the scoring in the 7th minute.
Oelrich’s big night started with a close-range finish in the 11th minute, set up by Wright along the end line after the sophomore had won possession back.
The Bemidji senior doubled her tally in the 32nd minute, latching on to a loose clearance by the Comets to strike home with the left foot.
Her hat-trick was completed just three minutes later. After Wright found Oelrich running through the middle, she knocked the ball past the last Comet defender before slotting past an onrushing Marfell.
It was Oelrich’s third game of at least three goals in her time playing for the Lumberjack varsity, dating back to a hat-trick against Crookston in her first varsity game in 2018.
There was more to come from Oelrich just seconds into the second half, this time with a major contribution from Miah Stone. The midfielder teed up Oelrich to steady herself inside the penalty area before tucking away her fourth and Bemidji’s fifth of the night.
The game’s best goal came courtesy of Wright in the 52nd minute, as the sophomore scored a wonder goal on the edge of the 18-yard box. Morin played Wright at the corner of the box from the right flank, where she pivoted on the turn to her left foot before curling a spectacular strike into the top corner past new Hillcrest keeper Lydia Baker.
Martin provided another excellent finish from distance in the 69th minute, blasting a layoff from Josie Aitken into the bottom corner.
There was still time for Oelrich to round off the scoring with one more goal in the 74th minute, depositing a rebounded shot from Morin to outdo her season goal tally of three entering the game by two on the night alone.
The Lumberjacks finished with a 23-1 advantage in shots on goal, with Marfell tallying 10 saves out of 15 for Hillcrest and Baker finishing with five on eight shots faced. Bemidji’s Kiera Nelson did not face a shot in the first half while Jody Pemberton stopped the lone effort on target from Hillcrest in the second.
Bemidji improves to 7-3-2 and has now won three straight games going back to the end of the regular season. The victory sets up a second meeting in eight days between Bemidji and East Grand Forks, as the North’s #1 seed ousted #8 Crookston 6-1 in the first round on Tuesday. The Lumberjacks topped the Green Wave 3-1 at Chet Anderson Stadium last Thursday in the final regular season game between the two teams.
Gametime for Thursday’s quarterfinal has tentatively been set for 4:30pm at East Grand Forks High School, with the Bemidji and East Grand Forks boys scheduled to follow in their own Section 8A soccer quarterfinal at 7pm. Both games will be aired on the Lumberjack Radio Network on KBUN-FM 104.5 and KBUN1 at kbunsportsradio.com.
Postgame interview with Bemidji head coach Logan Larsen:
Section 8A Girls Soccer Bracket
First Round (high seed hosting)
#1N East Grand Forks 6-1 #8N Crookston
#4N Bemidji 8-0 #5N Hillcrest Lutheran
#2N Alexandria 10-0 #7N Pelican Rapids
#3N Detroit Lakes 2-1 #6N Fergus Falls
#1S Sartell-St. Stephen win by forfeit over #9S St. John’s Prep
#4S Sauk Rapids-Rice 2-1 (2OT) #5S St. Cloud Tech
#2S St. Cloud Cathedral 2-0 #7 Melrose
#3S Little Falls 5-2 #6S St. Cloud Apollo
Quarterfinals (high seed hosting; all games Thursday)
#1N East Grand Forks v. #4N Bemidji
#2N Alexandria v. #3N Detroit Lakes
#1S Sartell-St. Stephen v. #4S Sauk Rapids-Rice
#2S St. Cloud Cathedral v. #3S Little Falls