Nick Holmberg’s penalty kick in the 78th minute notched a late winner for Brainerd as Bemidji boys soccer lost a painful 3-2 match to the Warriors on Saturday at Brainerd’s Don Adamson Field.
Playing shorthanded with the absences of seniors Tommy DeGeus (injury) and Brodie Price (illness), the Lumberjacks trailed in the 12th minute when Holmberg found a window to squeeze a shot over Connor Helm inside Bemidji’s penalty area.
Forward Isaac Stone took to a solo run to fashion a chance to equalize for Bemidji, but his effort missed the post by fractions from the edge of the 18-yard box.
Brainerd was presented a golden chance to equalize in the 27th minute on a Lumberjack foul inside the box that resulted in a penalty. But on this spot kick, it was Helm who came up as the winner with a strong save to deny Cullen Davis from 12 yards.
The Warriors’ lead was doubled four minutes later on a sweeping free kick from the flank by Keaton Walkowiak that was met by the head of Bennett Bermander.
Halftime provided a needed reset for the Lumberjacks, and a rapid response was produced just three minutes into the second half. A quick counterattack found Bo Hofstad on the left, who worked the ball back into the middle of the penalty area for Jacob Stanoch to steer a finish past Brainerd’s Kalvin Stengrim.
The goal was just the 11th conceded in 12 games by the Warriors, but it quickly had company in the 45th minute. Reed Johnson concluded a series of three corners in close succession by swinging in a corner that was met by Stanoch for a close-range equalizer.
Despite the game ramping up to a thrilling new gear with the score level, things took a turn for the surreal with a slew of yellow cards for infractions of a varying degree by both teams. With concern over players who picked up a card possibly receiving another during the escalation of bookings, the Lumberjacks reached deeper into the bench while still threatening to find another goal.
One prime chance came when Jonathan Devescovi rounded Stengrim on a ball played beyond Brainerd’s backline, but his touch took the ball right up against the end line before the midfielder crossed into the outside of the netting.
The match was ultimately decided on a disappointing handball decision against the Lumberjacks inside the box in the 78th minute, which brought Holmberg to the spot for the Warriors’ second penalty kick of the game–and the seventh penalty conceded in 12 games this season by the Lumberjacks. This time, the outcome was in favor of the home side.
Helm notched eight saves as the Lumberjacks dropped to 0-5 in Section 8AAA games this season despite losing two of them in the final two minutes of each game. Bemidji (4-7-1) will next host Pelican Rapids for Senior Night on Tuesday at 7pm at Chet Anderson Stadium.