HIGHLIGHTS: Moorhead Hands Bemidji Girls First Loss With First-Half Flurry

Moorhead scored four times in the first half and negated several good Bemidji opportunities to run out 4-0 winners in girls soccer on Monday evening at Jim Gotta Stadium in Moorhead.

The potent attack of the Spuds entered the day with 53 goals scored in just five games, and added to the tally after just 52 seconds of play. Maria Zanotti worked into some space in the penalty area and ripped a tight-angle shot past Bemidji goalkeeper Jody Pemberton to open the scoring.

Bemidji’s high press in the midfield and up front created some decent chances to equalize, but failed to feature a final quality effort to test Emily Soukup in Moorhead’s goal. The Spuds’ lead grew in the 23rd minute when top scorer Olivia Watson beat the defense on a through ball before expertly flicking a finish past Pemberton.

A few minutes after the goal, Peyton Oelrich had an opportunity to be the first player to score on Moorhead this season, but her well-struck free kick from just outside the 18-yard box found the waiting arms of Soukup.

Less frequently tested in the opening four games of the season compared to fellow keeper Kiera Nelson, Pemberton was kept busy in the first half and had to make a punch save to deny Watson another goal.

The North Dakota State commit would not be denied for much longer, as Watson was again played through and held off a challenge from behind to score in the 33rd minute.

Bemidji again responded well, with Miah Stone becoming the latest Lumberjack to go close to finding a breakthrough on Moorhead’s stout defense.

Watson completed her hat-trick not long after in the 37th minute, latching on to yet another pass over the top before finishing off the counter with a goal. It was her 31st strike of the season in just hers and the Spuds’ sixth game.

Defensive adjustments at halftime from Bemidji limited the Spuds attack to only a smattering of chances in the second half, with Nelson seeing just one shot on goal officially and Zanotti striking the post as well. At the other end, despite good spells of possession, the Lumberjacks failed to find a way past Soukup and the defense. Sydney Breyen’s first-time strike from outside the area was the best chance Bemidji created during the second half.

Both sides had 12 shots and nine on target, with Soukup making all nine saves for the Spuds, Pemberton saving four for Bemidji, and Nelson making her only save.

Bemidji drops to 3-1-1 with the defeat, the closest margin any team has had with 6-0 Moorhead’s vaunted lineup so far this season. The Lumberjacks will next host Alexandria on Thursday at 7pm at Chet Anderson Stadium.

Postgame interview with Bemidji head coach Logan Larsen: