There's no doubt about it, it took some doing for Century to shut out high-scoring Minot 1-0 in the finals of the West Region soccer tournament last weekend.
The Patriots had been blanked 3-0 and 2-0 in their first two meetings with the Magicians, so the performance in the West Region championship game exhibited obvious improvement.
Still, CHS head coach Ryan Okerson isn't sure even that type of effort will be enough at the state tournament, which begins today in Jamestown.
"I think we're going to have to be better than we were against Minot. We're playing very well, but at state everybody steps it up," Okerson observed.
If the Patriots have to find an extra gear in order to get things done this week, junior forward Logan Brown, an all-region player, says he thinks the Patriots can find it.
"I won't say (the regional championship game) is the best we've played ... but it was one of our better games," Brown said. "... As long as we follow our game plan and execute well, our best is definitely within reach."
Century, 13-3, opens the tournament, playing Fargo Shanley, 8-7-3, the No. 4 seed from the East Region at noon.
The two teams clashed in August, Century winning 1-0.
Brown said that game has absolutely no bearing on how today's match will turn out.
"Those were our first games of the year," he pointed out.
Today's other three first-round matchups have Fargo South playing Bismarck at 2:15 p.m., West Fargo taking on Mandan at 4:30 p.m. and Minot meeting Fargo Davies at 6:45.
Semifinals are scheduled for Friday, with the championship match on Saturday. West Fargo is the defending champion.
Okerson said it's a crowded field with a half-dozen teams looming as potential finalists.
"West Fargo is the defending champion. I think they're the team to beat. They're very solid. We have three teams out of the West who could take it. Likewise, the top three teams in the East all could win it," he noted.
Okerson won't discount his own team's chances.
"We're as good as anyone out there. Whether or not we prove it ... we'll see," he observed.
Brown has been playing soccer since he was kindergarten age.
"My brother (Hunter) was playing in kindergarten, so I'd play with him in the back yard," he recalled.
This is Brown's third year on the varsity, and he's among just a handful of players who were on Century's 2016 team that finished fourth in the state tournament.
"This is a younger team. A lot of these guys didn't play varsity last year," Okerson said. "Logan is part of a core group that did."
However, Brown has been moved to midfield after playing forward his first two years on the varsity. He said the positions are different, but the transition has gone smoothly.
"I like playing both (positions), but I just like midfielder a little bit better. You get the ball more (in the midfield) and you can see the field a little better," he said. "... You play offense and you come back and play defense, too. Skill-wise they're similar. Forward maybe requires a little better passing and shooting."
The Patriots will hit the state tournament on a roll. They've won their last two matches and six of their last seven. Brown said the recent run gives him and his teammates confidence as the final accounting approaches.
"I think we've got as good a chance as anybody. We're as good as or better than any team in the state when we play our best. ... It wouldn't surprise me if we got to the finals," he said.