Mandan struck quickly in both halves and posted a big victory over Bismarck on Thursday night as West Region girls soccer teams jockey for position down the stretch heading into the postseason.
Goals by Elizabeth Geiger and Kylie Osborn gave the Braves a 2-0 victory over the Demons at the MDU Resources Community Bowl, leaving both teams in the crowded West Region standings with 11 points.
The early lead was big for the Braves, who rallied from an early deficit to beat Bismarck 2-1 in their first matchup of the season.
“That was very helpful,” Braves coach Stephen Weston said. “It kind of established us into the game and gave us confidence.”
Mandan played well defensively and got nine saves from goaltender Olivia Geiger in posting a shutout.
“I think everything went well for us tonight,” Weston said. “Defensively we were solid, we didn’t give up a whole lot of easy chances for them, obviously we kept a clean sheet and we scored two goals.”
Mandan opened the scoring less than seven minutes into the contest. Elizabeth Geiger cashed in on a penalty kick with 33:04 remaining in the first half to stake the Braves to a 1-0 lead.
It was Geiger’s penalty-kick goal – the only scoring of the second half – that gave Mandan a 2-1 victory over the Demons in their first matchup of the season.
With 14:26 to go before intermission, Bismarck had a chance to even it up as Elle Hill broke free, but her shot was smothered by Mandan goalkeeper Olivia Geiger.
Late in the half, Mandan had a shot at adding to the lead, but Alonna Allickson's shot sailed just over the top of the crossbar.
Early in the second half, Allickson picked up an assist as Osborn finished to give Mandan a 2-0 lead with 37:05 remaining.
Both goals came early, which can be good, or bad.
“Sometimes early goals can be both a blessing and a curse because they get you off on a good foot but sometimes they can make for a long half to go and play and try to protect the lead,” Weston said. “It kind of changes the dynamics immediately, so the team talks just go out the window and the game kind of transitions.”
Mandan’s defense stymied the Demons at every turn.
“The game was really physical. Physical play was a big part of it,” Weston said. “Just playing hard, just working hard. A very simple concept and they did it really well.”
Kaiya Schwab finished with two saves for Bismarck (3-4-2, 3-4-2 West Region).
In other West Region games on Thursday night, Jamestown defeated Century 1-0 and St. Mary’s handed first-place Minot its first loss of the season, 3-1.
”An unbelievable night,” Weston said “Just when you think you know where everything is going to go. A crazy night.”
Minot remains in first place with 25 points, followed by St. Mary’s (17), Century (15), Jamestown (12), Mandan and Bismarck (11) and Legacy (3).
Bismarck travels to Jamestown on Tuesday, while Mandan is at St. Mary’s on Tuesday.
“We have two tough games left with St. Mary’s and Jamestown,” Weston said. “We tied nil-nil with St. Mary’s last time, lost 1-0 to Jamestown, both could have gone either way. We have lots to work on going forward.”