SOCCER: Brotherhood of brothers
BEMIDJI -- Seeing a pair of brothers or sisters on a high school sports team is fairly common. Rarely, though, can a team say it has four sets of brothers on one varsity roster.
The Bemidji High School boys soccer team can. It has four sets of brothers, including two pairs of twins, and they are all part of the reason the Lumberjacks finished the regular season with a 12-2-2 record and the top seed in the 8A-North Subsection tournament.
Senior Luke Hess and sophomore twins Ben and Silas Hess are all brothers, sophomores Ethan and Chase Mock are twins, Haaken (senior) and Brekt (junior) Thorsgard are brothers and Brock (senior) and Kolden (sophomore) Michalicek are brothers.
According to the Hesses, having so many players with brothers on the team contributes to how tightly knit the team is as a whole.
“I think so,” said Ben Hess, a midfielder. “At least with us (the Hesses), and a little bit closer as a team, too. We get a little more like a family feel.”
Silas Hess, a striker, added, “I think a lot of it, too, isn’t necessarily that a lot of us are brothers with each other, but a lot of us – we’ve been like brothers since we were very young. We’ve played with each other a lot, and we just have a really close group.”
It had been a few years since the Hess trio all played on the same team. Luke Hess had a torn ACL last season, and before that, Ben and Silas weren’t yet at the high school level.
They’re glad to be back on the same pitch.
“I really like it,” Ben Hess said. “Just playing again with our senior brother that we haven’t played with in a few years. I enjoy that. And I think we tend to know a little bit more, be comfortable with each other since we’ve been playing so long together.”
There were only four games in which Bemidji didn’t come out victorious so far this fall, and three of them were against tough AA opponents. The Jacks were 10-1 in section play, with the lone loss coming on the road to St. Cloud Cathedral in a 2-1 battle. Each of those were results of slowing up at times during the action, according to Silas Hess, who finished the season second in goals (16) behind Linaes Whiting’s 21 and first in assists (9).
“Just staying focused all 80 minutes or 90 minutes if it goes into overtime,” he said of how the team has to approach the playoffs. “We’ve had a few games this season where we’ve lost focus and dropped off for 20 minutes, and we either tied or lost those games, so we can’t have that in sections or state.”
Today, they’re focusing on a complete 80-minute effort against eighth-seeded Pelican Rapids (5-12), but in the long run, they’re looking for a shot at the section title.
“First and foremost, to get to that section final and hopefully win it, and then go on from there,” Luke Hess, a defensive centerman, said of the team’s expectations for itself in the playoffs.
Ever since winning the section title last year, though, the Jacks have felt the pressure to repeat.
“We’ve felt that all season,” Silas Hess said. “Coming off a state tournament run, every single team has had a target on us since the first game. Now the only difference is, we’re eliminated if we lose, and that’s something we don’t want to do.”
Kickoff for today’s game is at 6:15 p.m. at Chet Anderson Stadium. The winner will face either No. 4 Fergus Falls or No. 5 Detroit Lakes.
When asked what the key is to making their way through the rounds of subsections, Luke Hess said, “I think just playing as a unit. Playing as a whole team, instead of individuals, is really important, especially towards the end of the season. We don’t want to be divided. We want to be together.”
Boys Section 8A Playoffs
South No. 8 Minnewaska @ South No. 1 St. Cloud Cathedral, 7 p.m.
South No. 5 Little Falls @ South No. 4 St. Cloud Apollo, 4:30 p.m.
North No. 7 East Grand Forks @ North No. 2 West Ottertail United, 4 p.m.
North No. 6 Crookston @ North No. 3 Alexandria, 6 p.m.
North No. 8 Pelican Rapids @ North No. 1 Bemidji, 6:15 p.m.
North No. 5 Detroit Lakes @ North No. 4 Fergus Falls, 7:15 p.m.
South No. 7 Rocori @ South No. 2 St. John’s Prep, 4 p.m.
South No. 6 Melrose Area @ South No. 3 Sartell, 4 p.m.
Girls Section 8A Playoffs
South No. 8 Melrose Area at South No. 1 Sartell-St. Stephen, 7 p.m.
South No. 5 Little Falls at South No. 4 Sauk Rapids-Rice, 4 p.m.
North No. 7 WHA at North No. 2 Bemidji, 8 p.m.
North No. 6 Alexandria at North No. 3 Detroit Lakes, 7 p.m.
North No. 8 Crookston at North No. 1 East Grand Forks, 7 p.m.
North No. 5 West Ottertail United at North No. 4 Fergus Falls, 5 p.m.
South No. 7 Rocori at South No. 2 St. Cloud Cathedral, 5 p.m.
South No. 6 St. John’s Prep at South No. 3 St. Cloud Apollo, 7 p.m.