Bemidji boys soccer extended its unbeaten run to seven matches while ending a streak of six games in a row without a victory against Brainerd thanks to a 4-0 thumping at Chet Anderson Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The final Section 8AAA match of the regular season for the Lumberjacks opened in typically robust, physical style between the longtime rivals. Brainerd looked to use fast, bruising play in attack to fashion chances on the fly, testing Jacks goalkeeper Kellen Heuer from distance on several early occasions.
Despite the fast-paced start to the game, Bemidji jumped in front in the 11th minute by way of a slick team move. It culminated in Reed Johnson’s pass across the top of the penalty area receiving a touch to the side from Jeron Huseby, freeing Lincoln Schmitt to carve the opener past Brainerd’s Kalvin Stengrim.
Twelve minutes later, Bemidji’s top scorer Stone got in on the act with his 14th goal of the season. Fellow forward Austin Riewer picked off an errant goal kick before playing beyond the Warriors’ backline, giving Stone the chance to hold off a defender and slot past Stengrim on the run.
It only took a minute for Stone to double his own tally and race the Lumberjacks out to a 3-0 lead. Hunter Olson’s pass was mishandled by the Brainerd defense on an attempt to clear, as Stone made the block before flying through to clip past Stengrim and fire into an empty net.
The Warriors ramped up the desperation in both tackles and directness up front, as Bemidji suddenly found itself accumulating three yellow cards in the first half amidst the game’s increasing physicality. But Heuer continued to stay stout in goal, holding off a chance from a free kick to keep the lead at 3-0 going into the half.
Stone completed his hat trick and the scoreline in the 49th minute with a composed cutback and strike that was created by a perfectly skimmed pass off the head of Riewer to send him past the Brainerd defense again.
Bemidji almost added one more tally on to the big scoreline with a neat combination between German exchange students Theo Gerhard and Marian Stangle that produced a shot over the bar.
Heuer posted six saves to secure the clean sheet, as the Jacks notched their first victory over Brainerd since winning 4-2 away in Sep. 2016.
Bemidji improves to 7-2-3 heading into a visit to Lakes to Prairie Conference opponent Pelican Rapids on Tuesday evening at 7pm.
Postgame interview with Bemidji head coach Rick Toward: