Duluth East captured the lead for the first time just three minutes from full time to drop Bemidji boys soccer to a hard-fought 2-1 defeat at Chet Anderson Stadium in a battle of Class AAA northern schools on Thursday evening.
The Lumberjacks were forced to deal with an early wave of Greyhound attacks in the opening minutes, though most of the visitors’ earliest chances ended up missing off target.
Bemidji hoped to fashion chances on the counter to offset East’s considerable advantage in possession. One such attack presented an early opportunity for Reece Melville that was stopped at close range by Elijah Kramer.
Noah Johnson found a similar pocket of space on a darting run through the middle of the field, but his first touch took him wide before a sharp effort across the face of goal both missed wide and was out of the reach of Max Harris.
Late in the first half, the Lumberjacks took their first-ever lead in four meetings with the Greyhounds after staving off numerous corner kicks and attacking threats in the middle stages of the half. Johnson found Isaac Stone posting up 25 yards from goal, and the freshman turned to his left foot before drilling a low finish past backup goalkeeper Andrew Goman in the 37th minute.
The Lumberjacks’ defensive resistance was broken in the 54th minute after Amma Okoro’s endline cross was steered in by an unmarked Jackson DesCombaz to bring the Greyhounds level.
Clear chances dried up offensively for much of the second half for Bemidji, while Duluth East continued to put the pressure on at the other end. John McNallan was called into action to shut down Okoro on another big chance before the Greyhounds hit the crossbar several minutes later.
David Wallerstein found the match-winner for Duluth East in the 77th minute when he latched onto a partial clearance from the Lumberjacks after a long throw-in into the penalty area.
McNallan finished with an eight-save effort as Bemidji was outshot 10-2 on goal.
Still seeking their first win after a third consecutive loss by a single goal, the 0-4 Lumberjacks will next travel to face Duluth Denfeld on Saturday morning at 11am.
Postgame interview with Bemidji head coach Rick Toward: