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Chris Murphy, Published September 25 2012

Spuds hand Lumberjacks first loss of the season

MOORHEAD – Moorhead forward Gabe Roach saw the light Tuesday in a boys soccer matchup versus then undefeated Bemidji.

He saw the light shining in the eyes of the Lumberjacks goalie’s face and fired a free kick into the back of the net for the go-ahead goal with less than eight minutes remaining, propelling the Spuds to a 3-1 win.

“I knew that there was no way I was going to go near post,” Roach said. “The sun really worked to our advantage. I could tell (the goalie) couldn’t see the ball and I just kind of got lucky. I kicked it and it was about to go a foot over, but, at the last second, it knuckled down.”

Roach added a goal with 90 seconds left off a rebound on a penalty kick to seal the win for Moorhead (10-1-1) and hand Bemidji (9-1-1) its first loss of the season.

“Every time we play Bemidji, it’s always a very competitive game,” Moorhead coach Lance Hansen said. “When I looked up their record and saw they were undefeated, I knew it was going to be a good fight. We had to play well. Our midfields and offense flowed really well tonight. I’m hoping this can be a game we look back on and use that offensive execution.”

The offense was there for Moorhead, but the back of the net wasn’t, as the Spuds outshot Bemidji 12-2 in the first half, but only found themselves up 1-0. Drew Thompson picked a good time to get his first varsity goal, finding the back of the net from 35 yards out on a ball that seemed to fly in slow motion through the air and past the outstretched fingertips of the Bemidji goalie Connor McNallan with just more than five minutes remaining in the first half.

“I saw an open shot and coach always says to put the ball on net,” Thompson said. “It was in slow motion for me. It’s going to be my most memorable goal, I can tell you that.”

Less than two minutes into the second half, Bemidji landed the equalizer when Isak Sommer found Alex Schussman behind the defense. Schussman controlled the ball and, when Spuds goalie Tanner Swenson came out to challenge, tapped it into the right corner of the net. It would be the only shot on net of the second half for the Lumberjacks.

“We know we’re going to have a battle, coming to Moorhead,” Bemidji coach Rick Toward said. “We’re not disappointed in winning or losing. We wanted to see how we stacked up against the best team in (Class 2A, Section 8) and we held our own. Moorhead had the better play today.”

After the victory, Moorhead not only pushes its winning streak to four, but moves forward with new confidence.

“We knew this was going to be a tough game coming in,” Thompson said. “It was really good to give them their first loss. It shows the state that we’re ready to play and we can put them down.”

FIRST HALF: 1, M, Thompson, 34:50.

SECOND HALF: 2, B, Schussman (Sommer), 41:52. 3, M, Roach 72:35. 4, M, Roach (78:32).

SAVES: M, Swenson 2. B, McNallan 4.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548