{{featured_button_text}}
CHS

Century soccer coach Ryan Okerson got in some gaming during the storm-forced down time prior to the state tournament on Monday.

"I was playing Madden," the Century coach said on Friday.

With school cancelled because of the winter storm, teams could not practice on Friday. Okerson said his team would be training indoors on Saturday at Sanford Power.

The state soccer tournament was supposed to be finishing on Saturday. Instead, it starts Monday at Starion Sports Complex in Mandan, all due to the heavy snow that had Interstate 94 from Bismarck to Fargo closed until late Saturday afternoon.

The few extra days might actually benefit Okerson's Patriots. One of their best players, junior forward Nikko Helderop, likely would have missed the tournament entirely due to injury had it been played as scheduled. Helderop's status for Century's 5:45 p.m. quarterfinal against Fargo Davies is still in doubt, but he could play if the Patriots advance to the semifinals and beyond.

"He's a difficult kid to replace," Okerson said of Helderop. "He's one of the best players in the state."

Helderop can score (10 goals), plus he creates chances. However, among Century's many strengths is their depth.

Eleven players have scored goals this season. Kenneth Brako, another junior, has 11 goals, while Schmidt Joseph, a sophomore, netted nine. Will Dohrmann, Jackson Lackner, Jacob Schwarz and Ben Weigum each have three goals.

"You'd much rather have Nikko, of course, but if we can find a way to get past Davies, maybe he's a little closer to 100 percent for Tuesday," Okerson said. "We're not taking anything for granted. We feel like we match up well with Davies, but things happen at state soccer. You never really know. Either way, we're going to have to play really well to advance."

Century defeated Davies 3-1, but that was two months ago. Century hit its stride down the stretch of the season. The Patriots have lost just once since Sept. 7. That lone defeat came to Bismarck High in the West Region championship game eight days ago, 2-1.

"We've competed with every team. The two goals against BHS were unmarked corner kicks, situations where we just had a couple of mental errors," Okerson said. "But as a whole, our kids have played well. I think we've improved throughout the season. I think we're going into the tournament confident."

Century gets strong play in the middle of the field led by all-West Region selection Teddy Hardmeyer.

Defensively, they've allowed just 23 goals with senior all-conference honoree Jacob Schwarz anchoring the back line in front of senior goalkeeper Nathan Al-Khafaji.

"Consistency for 80 minutes is so important. You don't want to get beat because of a dumb mistake or a lack of focus or concentration," Okerson said. "Every team is good. You just can't afford to make costly mistakes or beat yourself."

The potential of an all-Bismarck, the Demons are the No. 1 seed in the top of the bracket, certainly would appeal to ticket-takers. The thought has crossed Okerson's mind as well.

"Our guys really want that game," the Century head coach said of a potential fourth matchup with BHS. "But we understand that's a ways down the road for sure."

Get News Alerts delivered directly to you.

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Follow Tribune sports editor Dave Selvig on Twitter: @dave_selvig

1
0
0
0
0