Five second-half goals for #3 Rogers–spearheaded by a four-goal performance from Alex Bowman–left #6 Bemidji behind in a 7-1 rout on Thursday evening in a Section 8AAA boys soccer quarterfinal at Rogers High School.
Despite holding little of the first-half possession and less of the share of chances created, Bemidji hung on in the opening 15 minutes as the Royals showcased their collective team speed in attack. Forward Isaiah Brown found an opening on a bouncing ball in the penalty area before volleying over the bar in one of the best early chances for either side.
The speed and precision of the hosts was most clearly on display in the 18th minute when Bowman latched onto a clearance out of the Royals own penalty area by defender Allan Orina. Knocking the ball past the backline, Bowman raced clear and slotted past John McNallan for the game’s opening goal.
Bemidji was still able to draw level in the match just ten minutes later on one of its only chances of the night. Noah Johnson was closed down in possession inside the Rogers 18-yard box, but Brodie Price followed behind with a first-time strike that flew into the far corner.
The match stayed even for just five further minutes before Rogers retook the lead. Bowman picked off a short goal kick, then fed Brown for a low shot from the edge of the area.
The second half brought wave after wave of Rogers attacks against a Bemidji backline playing without quickest defender Tommy DeGeus, who exited the first half with a knee injury. Kael Sandberg finished off a rapid counterattack with Bowman six minutes into the second half to extend the lead.
Bowman went from provider to scorer minutes later when he broke through the defensive line again for his 20th goal of the season.
The forward had two more goals in him in the 63rd minute, completing his hat-trick before adding yet another goal less than a minute later.
Alexander Paulson completed the scoring five minutes from time, rounding off a dominant performance by the Royals that featured a 12-3 advantage in shots.
The loss was Bemidji’s first in an opening-round playoff game since 2008–the last season in which the Lumberjacks played in the highest competitive class of boys soccer in the state.
Bemidji finishes the 2021 season 4-10-2 overall while graduating seven seniors: John McNallan, Wil King, Casey Hiller, Zane Hiller, Noah Johnson, Max Harris, and Reece Melville.
Postgame interview with Bemidji head coach Rick Toward: