100817-spt-soccer.jpg

Minot's Anthony Sodano, left, and Century's Logan Brown battle for the ball in first-half play of Saturday's West Region championship match in Mandan.

TOM STROMME, TRIBUNE

 If not a colossus, Minot boys soccer is a force to be reckoned with.

 Minot placed first in the West Region standings with a 10-1-1 record and outscored its regional foes 47-7.

 So Century, a 3-0 and 2-0 loser to the Magicians in regional play, knew something had to change on Saturday in the regional tournament championship match.

 What changed was Century, a 1-0 winner in Saturday's finale at Mandan's Dacotah Centennial Park Soccer Complex.

 "They're one heck of a team. They know each other well," Century head coach Ryan Okerson said. " The thing is their pace. We've tried to sprint with them (previously). ... We were able to own the midfield today, which we didn't do in the first two contests."

 That was a factor in limiting Minot to eight shots on net and 19 total attempts. Century launched 13 total shots, seven of them on frame, including the only goal of the game.

 Junior forward Fabian Lunell scored at 21:01 with an assist from junior midfielder Logan Brown on a play akin to a tipped shot in hockey. Brown fired from the perimeter, low on the left wing. Lunell, lurking near the left post, finished the play.

 "I had a ball on the outside. I crossed the ball in and Fabian got on the end of the net," Brown said.

 CHS goalkeepers Conor Fehr (first half) and Austin Underhill (second half) made that slim margin stand up, combining for eight saves.

 Okerson said a two-man tandem in goal has not been the norm for the Patriots this season.

 "We just saw something we could utilize better in the second half," Okerson said of the keeper switch.

 The first 15 minutes of the match belonged to Minot, but Fehr kept the Magicians at bay until the Patriots got going.

 Things got especially dicey for Century in the ninth minute when Fehr thwarted Minot forward Evan Bolinske on a short-range shot near the left post. The rebound went across to the right side of the goal mouth where senior defender Oumar Gueye made a save.

 Brown said the turning point came in the 20th minute when his own free kick hit the crossbar above Minot keeper Jade Francis and bounced over the net.

 "We started pretty slowly. We weren't connecting on many passes. ... We had that free kick that went off the crossbar and that motivated us a little bit. We started connecting," Brown said.

 From that point on, Century played the Magicians nose-to-nose. In the second half, the Patriots limited Minot to five attempted shots, two of them on net.

  "We realized what could happen if we put pressure on them and forced mistakes," Brown noted.

  Okerson said something had to change, because playing Minot on its own terms does not end well.

 "The first two games with Minot they controlled us. They played their game and we played their game," the coach observed.

 Century will take a 13-3-0 record into the state tournament as the West Region's No. 1 seed. The Patriots will meet Fargo Shanley, 8-7-3, in the tournament opener at noon Thursday in Jamestown.

 Second-seeded Minot, 11-5-1, goes against Fargo Davies, 12-3-1, in Thursday's finale at 6:45 p.m. Bismarck, No. 3 from the West, puts a 12-2-1 mark on the line against Fargo South, 9-5-4, at 2:15 p.m. and Mandan, 4-10-1, meets West Fargo, No. 1 from the East with a 12-4-2 mark, at 4:30.

 Mandan advanced to the state tournament with a 2-1 victory over Jamestown on Saturday and Bismarck thumped Legacy 5-0 in the other state qualifier.

 Stephen Weston, who shares Mandan coaching duties with Carly Retterath, noted the Braves haven't played in a state tournament since 2009.

 "I'm simply proud of them. Today they did great," Weston said.

 Although Jamestown, 8-8-0, had a better record than Mandan, Weston said he saw it as a tossup.

 "I'd say it was a 50-50 game. We played twice during the season and they won one and we won one," he noted. 

 Mandan took a 1-0 lead in the first half on a goal by Ian Dahners, but Jamestown pulled even on a tally by Jonas Flann in the middle of the second half. Evan Arenz put the Braves back in the lead with a goal 10 minutes later, and Mandan goalie William Liffrig held the Blue Jays at bay the rest of the way.

  Weston said he was proud of the way the Braves responded to the Jamestown goal.

 "We could easily have fallen into a lull. Credit to the lads. They kept their heads up. ... It's about determination, grit and grinding wins out," he noted.

Weston said it's been a long journey to the state tournament. Last season Mandan was winless in boys soccer.

Angry
0
Sad
0
Funny
0
Wow
0
Love
0