09 Nov WOMEN’S SOCCER: Superstitions, tight bond have BSU feeling lucky ahead of NSIC Tournament
First, there’s a Dunkin’ Donuts run and a bowl of Cocoa Pebbles in the morning. Her hair is braided the same way, and she uses the same ponytail. Somewhere in there, her mom sends a good luck Snapchat.
Becker’s socks, shin guards and shoes go on — always right to left. Warmups always begin at the same spot on the field. She passes with Sara Wendt and Emma Huelsnitz pregame, hugs Madisanne Dahl and shares a handshake with the coach.
“A lot of my teammates think I’m crazy,” said Becker, who also has to sit on the right side of the bus before road games. “I’m probably the most superstitious. … I don’t know why I have them. It just makes me feel more ready.”
Regardless of sanity, the most important question is whether or not it all works.
“Yeah!” she exclaimed. “We get the dubs.”
Bemidji State senior Erin Becker (11) gains possession of the ball in the first half against U-Mary on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, at Chet Anderson Stadium. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)
The No. 6 Beavers can bank on Becker to carry the same lucky routine into the NSIC Tournament this week.
“This year, we’re ready to make a program first,” Becker said. “That’s our goal, to win the championship.”
BSU (16-0-2, 13-0-2 NSIC) ran through its schedule unbeaten this fall to win the NSIC regular season championship. The title was the second in program history, but similar success in recent years has not led to playoff glory.
Bemidji State is making its 11th consecutive appearance in the conference tournament, but the Beavers have never reached the championship game. BSU is just 4-14-3 in the tourney this century.
“It’s always exciting when you have the chance to write your own story and maybe add a chapter or two that hasn’t been there before,” Bemidji State head coach Jim Stone said. “The kids are excited and the coaches are, too.”
The Beavers will reach for new heights this season. Just as much as superstitions, the team’s close-knit bond makes the history possible.
“This team is the closest one I’ve ever been on,” said junior keeper Alyssa Stumbaugh, who hasn’t allowed a goal in her last 363:54 in net. “It really feels like a sisterhood and a family. To be able to celebrate these accomplishments with this specific team is amazing.”
Bemidji State junior Alyssa Stumbaugh makes a save in the first half against Southwest Minnesota State on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, at Chet Anderson Stadium. (Micah Friez / Bemidji Pioneer)
“They have a great camaraderie,” Stone added. “But even within that camaraderie, they’re able to be competitive. That’s pretty unique.”
The first test of the postseason comes at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 10, when the top-seeded Beavers host eighth-seeded Northern State at Chet Anderson Stadium. The winner plays either fourth-seeded Minot State or fifth-seeded Concordia-St. Paul in Friday’s semifinals, while the championship will kick off at 2 p.m. Sunday.
“We want to break records here,” Stumbaugh said. “We want to do things that previous teams haven’t done yet. We want to make a name for ourselves.”
And, with a little bit of luck, BSU can make a run in the conference tournament and beyond.
“Our goal this year is obviously to make it further than we ever have before,” Becker said. “We want to keep improving every game. Honestly, we just want to be the best we can be.”
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