HIGHLIGHTS: Elk River Ends Bemidji Girls’ 8AAA Playoff Run

Hopes of another road upset were dashed for #7 Bemidji in a 3-1 defeat at #3 Elk River in a Section 8AAA girls soccer semifinal game on Saturday afternoon in the first soccer game at Elk River High School’s new stadium.

The Elks were on the front foot from the early minutes of the match, creating chances with swift possession through and across the field from back to front. Bemidji goalkeeper Kiera Nelson was called into action on several occasions, including a testing shot from Mikalyn Hidde.

Nelson was again called into action when Britta DeMar found space past the back line but mis-controlled a cross into the hands of the goalkeeper.

Elk River’s top scorer Ava Johnson was the next to threaten on quick breaks through Bemidji’s backline. After missing an effort wide on a ball through, she was denied by a fingertip save from Nelson that pushed the ball onto the post and away from goal.

But Johnson would not be denied in the 28th minute. Lauren Gregory swung in a cross from the flank that bounced into Johnson’s path for a lob over Nelson to open the scoring.

Bemidji reached halftime trailing by just the single goal, but had failed to muster a single shot in the first half and suddenly went down by two goals early in the second half. DeMar was given time to turn and fire into the corner from close range on a feed by Johnson in the 43rd minute.

Johnson further extended the lead in the 63rd minute with a first-time finish swept into the far corner beyond Nelson.

The Lumberjacks found opportunities to press in the final few minutes and snatched a goal late from a first-time varsity scorer playing her final game of senior year. Olivia Blomberg dropped a lofted clearance into the Elks’ penalty area, where Lauren Berg stabbed the ball into the path of Teriana Melcher. Her first-time shot appeared to have been saved off the line by Breanna Bernardson before Josie Aitken followed up through a crowd of players to score, but it was later determined that Melcher’s initial effort had crossed the line.

Nelson totaled eight saves in the loss, with Bemidji outshot 11-3 in efforts on target. The Elks advance to face #1 Rogers, which defeated Buffalo 1-0 in the other 8AAA semifinal.

Bemidji finishes 8-7-2 in the 2021 season, graduating a class of 13 seniors: Nile Fayette, Isabel Grospe, Elle Bush, Massy Toward, Kate Martin, Anna Renn, Josie Aitken, Teriana Melcher, Sydney Breyen, Olivia Blomberg, Miah Stone, Addy Kelly, and Lauren Berg.

Postgame interview with Bemidji head coach Logan Larsen: