BAXTER -- Last year, Bemidji Lumberjacks forward Kristy Wallner scored five goals against the Brainerd Warriors girls' soccer team.
This year, Brainerd held her to just one assist, but instead of Wallner it was Amy Berg who did all the scoring for Bemidji, which went on to beat the Warriors 3-2 in the season opener Tuesday.
The new-look Warriors appeared well on their way to finally beating Bemidji as they took an early 1-0 lead after the first half.
Liz Hendrickson stood wide open in front of the net as Beth Cairns centered and found Hendrickson, who kicked in the first goal of the game and season.
Warriors coach George Kohan said it was how Brainerd practiced the play.
"It was just a good passing play," he said. "We set it up, sent the ball to the corner and we just sent it home.
"You try to pull the defense one way, send someone to the far post, send the ball there and let her finish it. It didn't happen exactly like that. We got the ball to the corner to Beth Cairns who astutely sent the ball to Lizzy and she sent it home."
After the break, Bemidji looked like a team possessed. The Lumberjacks switched offensive strategy, causing confusion for some Brainerd players.
Bemidji's main objective was to get the ball to Wallner, but with a new style of attack, Wallner was able to incorporate her teammates, especially Berg.
With the change of attack, Bemidji had Brainerd running in circles. The Warriors finally adjusted by moving players around, but it was too late as the momentum switched after Berg's first goal at the 44-minute mark.
"Their whole strategy is to feed Wallner," said Kohan. "She's a Division I prospect in basketball and she could probably play Division I in soccer. She's just a really strong athlete.
"Their whole program is to get the ball to Wallner and she'll score. Last year, they beat us 5-1 and she scored all five goals. They had 21 shots on goal and she had 13 of them."
Brainerd's strategy was to have Marie Lang cover Wallner one-on-one. It worked as Lang covered Wallner like a blanket. But the strategy opened up things for Berg and the other Bemidji forwards.
Berg scored again at the 60-minute mark, but Brianna Olson followed four minutes later with a goal for Brainerd.
Brainerd had another good chance to regain the lead as a cluster of players gathered in front of the Bemidji net. Numerous shots on goal were attempted, but no goal was scored.
With time winding down and the score tied 2-2, Brainerd had another defensive lapse. With Bemidji on the run, Brainerd didn't account for all of Bemidji's forwards, leaving one player open, who then found Berg for the decisive goal.
Bemidji 0 3 -- 3
Brainerd 1 1 -- 2
First half -- 1, Brd-Liz Hendrickson (Beth Cairns) 14:00
Second half -- 2, Bem-Amy Berg (Kristy Wallner) 44:00; 3, Bem-Berg (Betsy Hoody) 60:00; 4, Brd-Brianna Olson (Jennifer Beilke) 64:00; 5, Bem-Berg 70:00
Shots on goal (by halves) -- Bem 17-13-- 30; Brd 7-8--15
Goaltenders -- Trista Corcoran (13 saves), Kate Bjornson (27 saves)
Overall -- B 0-1. Next match -- Brainerd at Willmar 5 p.m. Thursday.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.