A stunning 25th-minute strike from Marah Bitter was enough for Bemidji girls soccer to snatch a rare second straight win over Brainerd with a 1-0 decision on Saturday at Brainerd’s Don Adamson Field.
The victory was the Lumberjacks’ third in a row–all coming by way of a shutout defensively–and came on the heels of toppling Brainerd 11 months prior in a memorable 2-1 victory away in the Section 8AAA quarterfinals.
Bemidji absorbed a large amount of Brainerd pressure in the opening 20 minutes, but possession and the opportunity to create chances in attack both proved hard to come by. Bitter changed everything in one sweeping attack by cutting inside at the top of the penalty area before unleashing a shot that struck the crossbar and stayed out.
Only moments later, Bitter lobbed a hopeful effort toward goal from the right edge of the 18 that dipped down over the Warriors’ Gracelyn Dickinson to give Bemidji a narrow 1-0 advantage.
The goal was the senior’s seventh of the season, which she nearly added to in the early stages of the second half before Dickinson was able to shut down Bitter’s poked shot.
Brainerd threw waves of attacks forward in the second half in search of an equalizer, but Lumberjack goalkeeper Kiera Nelson stayed relatively untested on recorded shots thanks to her strong work shutting down both crosses and through passes.
Another opportunity to double the lead came to the Jacks on a low corner from Bitter that deflected off Emma Wright before missing wide of the net.
Tactical adjustments put Bemidji into a defensive shell in the final 15 minutes, but the Lumberjacks held firm to secure back-to-back wins against Brainerd for the first time in over 15 years.
Nelson was credited with eight saves in the victory, as Bemidji (5-4-1) will now turn its sights to a home matchup with Hillcrest Lutheran Academy on Tuesday at 5pm at the Bemidji Middle School.
Postgame interview with Bemidji head coach Logan Larsen: