Goals conceded late in the first and second halves proved vital as Bemidji boys soccer fell to St. Cloud Tech 3-1 Thursday evening at Chet Anderson Stadium in a rematch of last year’s Section 8A final.
Much like in their match with St. Cloud Apollo on Tuesday evening, chances were relatively few and far between for Bemidji in the first half against Tech. Michael Dickinson created a good chance from off the wing that Marlondo Smith was unable to meet as he raced toward goal in the 18-yard box.
The Tigers saw more of the possession in the first half, but did not threaten consistently until in the latter stages of the half. Mahamat Hissein created a good chance on a ball into the box, but did not test Westin Gourneau with his left-footed effort.
Tech broke through with just a minute and a half remaining in the first half. Zakaria Mahamed’s cross from the right was knocked down in the penalty area, setting up Ahmed Ismail to seize possession and slot past Gourneau for the opening goal.
Celebrating senior day along with eight other Lumberjack players, goalkeeper Josh Nyberg rotated in for the second half and was called into action early to make a sharp save.
Despite picking up an injury in the first half, Tech’s influential senior forward Ethan Miller returned and put his stamp on the game in the 55th minute. Picking up possession from Khadar Abdi, he strode across into the box before blasting to the near post to beat Nyberg and make it 2-0.
Bemidji’s best moments in attack throughout the night often involved junior Noah Johnson, who pulled the Lumberjacks back into the game in the 75th minute with a persistent finish set up by Wylee Gladen.
Ultimately, it was the last threat the Lumberjacks could muster. Abdi rounded off the scoring in style with a perfectly struck free kick in the 79th minute that beat Nyberg to his right and sealed the 3-1 result for the visitors.
Tech’s strong edge in possession yielded a 20-9 advantage in shots, with 10 of theirs on target to just four for Bemidji. Gourneau picked up three first half saves, while Nyberg stopped four shots in the second half. Nicholas Lalonde make three saves for St. Cloud Tech.
Bemidji drops to 1-2 and will have a bye before returning to play next Thursday to face Willmar on the road at 7pm.
Postgame interview with Bemidji head coach Rick Toward:
Central Lakes Conference Matchday 3 Results
Moorhead 6-0 St. Cloud Apollo
Alexandria 1-1 Sauk Rapids-Rice
Brainerd 5-0 Rocori
Fergus Falls 0-3 Sartell-St. Stephen
Central Lakes Conference Standings
Moorhead 3-0-0 (9 pts)…15 GF, 2 GA
Brainerd 3-0-0 (9 pts)…9 GF, 0 GA
St. Cloud Tech 2-0-0 (6 pts)…8 GF, 3 GA
Sartell-St. Stephen 2-1-0 (6 pts)…4 GF, 1 GA
St. Cloud Apollo 2-1-0 (6 pts)…4 GF, 7 GA
Bemidji 1-2-0 (3 pts)…4 GF, 5 GA
Alexandria 0-1-2 (2 pts)…2 GF, 3 GA
Sauk Rapids-Rice 0-2-1 (1 pt)…3 GF, 9 GA
Rocori 0-2-1 (1 pt)…2 GF, 10 GA
Willmar 0-2-0 (0 pts)…3 GF, 8 GA
Fergus Falls 0-2-0 (0 pts)…0 GF, 6 GA