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Bemidji gains edge over Lakers for No. 2

Anya Butzer maintains control of the ball during a home game this season. The Lakers will be heading into the Section 8-1A playoffs probably as the No. 3 seed. Photo by - Brian Basham1 / 2
Laker leading scorer Emily Payne tracks down a ball during a game at the DL Soccer Complex this season. Photo by - Brian Basham2 / 2

Shaken, but not deterred.

Despite losing their season finale game against visiting Bemidji Thursday underneath crabby skies, the Detroit Lakes girls' soccer team is heading into the playoffs with a quiet confidence.

The 4-3 loss to the Lumberjacks (9-6), most likely means the Lakers will gain the No. 3 seed in the Section 8-1A playoffs, while Bemidji secures the No. 2.

If the seeds do stand like that, with East Grand Forks gaining the top seed, the Lakers will get to see the Lumberjacks again -- potentially in the section semifinals.

It will just be a road game for the Lakers.

"We know we are not that far away from Bemidji, if not even better maybe," said DL head coach Dave Carter. "If we do meet again in the playoffs, we do know we'll need to play an A-1 game, though."

Thursday's season finale for the Lakers, who end their regular season with a 9-6-1 mark, was played under unfavorable conditions for a controlled and crisp passing game -- which is DL's strength.

The heavy downpour and frigid wind, made playing the gusts that more important, in which the Lakers held the wind to their backs in the first half.

But it was Bemidji's star senior midfielder Erin Booth, who struck first, as she found a shooting lane in the penalty area passed DL junior goalie Kathryn Foltz.

Booth finished with two goals in the game and was a player Carter was concerned with.

"Erin is a very talented midfielder and she controls Bemidji's game," Carter said. "With the weather they way it was, we approached playing defense a little differently, but in hindsight, we probably didn't put enough attention on her as much as we should have."

But the Lakers' leading scorer, senior forward Emily Payne, made a nice breakaway move after a Halle Jordan pass, set her up in the 23rd minute to tie the game.

The Lakers barely were set on the ensuing series, before Bemidji was down close to the net and punched its second goal in.

"I told the girls to settle down after Emily's goal, because after scoring a goal is when you are the most ripe to be scored on and that's exactly what happened," Carter said.

Junior midfielder Natalie Roth tied the game up with her first of two goals on the night, after deeking out the Lumberjack goalie in the middle of the penalty area to push the halftime score at 2-2.

With Bemidji taking the wind in the second half, they used it to their advantage and outshot the Lakers by a 7-5 margin.

In the 54th minute, Booth scored another goal, with the score being upped to 4-2 in the 69th minute after a DL defender slipped, leaving the attacker one-on-one against Foltz.

Roth made the game interesting by scoring in the 73rd minute on the assist by senior midfielder Callie Johnson, but the Lakers couldn't put on too much more pressure in the final seven minutes.

"The conditions were not in our favor because we rely on our passing," Carter said. "But Bemidji played very well, too, so I can't take anything away from them."

It is estimated the Lakers will open the Section 8-1A playoffs against Walker/Hackensack-Akeley.

"We already know we can't take Walker for granted, because we tied in our last game against them," Carter said.

The playoffs will open Thursday with the play-in game and continue Saturday at the high seed.

(Follow Brian Wierima on Twitter at DLSportsGuy.)

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN.