BISMARCK-On paper, Fargo Shanley-Oak Grove's convincing 2-0 win over once-beaten Minot was an upset. But that was not the case on the pitch.
The Deacons dominated possession in both halves, getting a pair of early goals against the West Region champion Majettes in the first game of the North Dakota state girls soccer tournament in Bismarck.
Both goals came in the first 12 minutes as the Deacons improved to 8-2-2 this season.
Senior star Tabby Kelsch made it 2-0 Shanley in the 12th minute.
"I thought we worked really hard and executed the game plan," said Kelsch, a starter since the eighth grade. "Our goal is to win, to win the ship. Tomorrow will be a tough game."
The Deacons face West Fargo Sheyenne in the semifinals on Friday at 4:30 p.m. It will be their fourth meeting in this abbreviated season. The Mustangs hold a 2-1 edge.
"I was pleased with today's effort. It's never easy to finish off a good team like Minot. We were a little worried about that in the second half," Shanley coach Lance Hansen said. "We stayed active, had a little more possession and did a pretty good job taking some time off the clock."
Minot was by far the highest scoring team in the West Region. The Majettes' 30 goals more than doubled every team in the West except Bismarck High. But with the temperatures rising on the MDU Resources Community Bowl's turf surface, Shanley's defense was dominant.
"Those girls are really close and work well together and work really hard together," Kelsch said of the Deacons' back line.
Hansen liked what he saw from his defensive group.
"They had a couple good scoring chances in the first half but for the most part we did a good job of keeping them out of the scoring area," Hansen said.
Hadley Huber made it 1-0 just 4:26 into the match. Olivia Manuel assisted.
"We heard a lot of good things about Minot," Hansen said. "This is a good start for us and hopefully we can build on it tomorrow."
FIRST HALF: 1. Shanley, Hadley Huber (Olivia Manuel), 4:26. 2. Shanley, Tabby Kelsch, 11:43.
SECOND HALF: No scoring.
SAVES: Shanley-Molly Metzger 1-2--3. Minot-Becca Kostenko 3-3--6.
West Fargo Sheyenne 3, Bismarck Century 0
West Fargo Sheyenne took command early, and this time the Mustangs didn't let it get away.
Sheyenne jumped off to a 2-0 lead in the first 20 minutes and went on to a 3-0 victory over Century in Thursday's quarterfinal round of the North Dakota state girls soccer tournament.
The Mustangs, now 7-3-2, move into Friday's 4:30 semifinal against Fargo Shanley.
Madison Urlaub, a returning all-state player who had a goal and an assist for Sheyenne, said taking the early lead was important, but not decisive. She recalled last season when Sheyenne led at halftime en route to a quarterfinal loss.
"We came into state last year and lost to St. Mary's in the first round after leading," Urlaub recalled. "We're a new program. This is our third year, and we wanted this."
Urlaub said the halftime advantage was more important for momentum purposes than anything.
"We wanted to make a statement in the first half," she said.
Yasima Dokara scored the game's initial goal at 13:19, knocking a rebound into a wide-open net following a shot from the right wing by Urlaub.
Around 16 minutes later, Sheyenne went ahead 2-0 on a long bomb. Alyssa Heacox launched a towering shot from 45 yards out that dropped between the crossbar and goalkeeper Olivia Kost to make it 2-0.
Century played catch up in the second half with a brisk wind at its back, but was unable to mount a serious challenge. The Mustangs enjoyed a 7-3 shot advantage in the second half and an 18-5 superiority for the game.
Urlaub said the wind rushing east to west down the MDU Resources Community Bowl was nice to have in the first half, but wasn't vital.
"We like to pass the ball around. ... If you play as a team like we play, the wind is not a huge factor," she observed.
Friday's Sheyenne-Shanley semifinal will be the fourth such matchup of the year. Shanley won the first game 3-2. The Mustangs won the second contest 2-1 and prevailed 1-0 in the East Region tournament semifinals.
FIRST HALF: 1. WFS, Yasmina Dokara (Madison Urlaub), 13:19. 2. WFS, Alyssa Heacox (unassisted), 20:04.
SECOND HALF: 3. WFS, Urlaub (Faith Tenold), 29:00.
SAVES: C, Olivia Kost 9-6--15. WFS, Shelby Weber 2-3--5.
Fargo North 2, Mandan 1 (SO)
BISMARCK-Mandan, the fourth-seeded team from the West Region, gave Fargo North all it could handle in Thursday's quarterfinal round.
When it was all said and done, however, North prevailed 2-1 via a shootout to advance to Friday's semifinal round.
The Spartans, now 9-2-1, play in the 6:45 p.m. game. Mandan plays at 2:15 p.m. in the consolation bracket.
North reached the quarterfinals with a perfect 4-for-4 shootout round. Elise Bakke, Mackenzie Kirkpatrick, Ana Solberg and Remi Vannett all connected against Mandan goalkeeper Olivia Geiger. Vannett's score was the clincher. Because Mandan had just one goal, the shootout didn't have to go all the way to the usual fifth round.
Junior Abi Hoff, who scored North's regulation-time goal, said the Spartans were at least somewhat comfortable when the game went to the ultimate tiebreaker.
"We've been working on our penalty kicks in practice and we already had one shootout, so I think we were ready for it," Hoff said. "We didn't want it to happen, but we were ready."
North's prior shootout decision was a victory over Fargo Davies in the semifinals of the East Region tournament.
Through two regulation periods and two 10-minute overtimes the game was a defensive struggle, plain and simple, with just 13 shots on net.
North broke the scoreless deadlock, Hoff slipping a weak 15-yard shot inside the right post at 5:46 of the second half with an assist from Abby Naseth.
That lead was safe for less than five minutes.
Mandan drew even at 10:27 on a corner kick by Elizabeth Geiger. Sarah Burgum ended up with the ball about 15 yards away, squarely in front of the net. She looped a floater over keeper Alexis Jemtrud, and the deadlock marched on.
Hoff said the lack off legitimate scoring opportunities was due in part to the focus of the two teams.
"I think part of it is both our teams are very defensive-minded," she said.
Hoff said taking the lead and losing it so quickly was frustrating, but she felt her team handled the frustration well.
"I think we worked with it pretty well. We figured out what we had to do," she said.
FIRST HALF: No scoring.
SECOND HALF: 1. Abi Hoff (Abby Naseth), 5:46. 2. M, Sarah Burgum (Elizabeth Geiger), 10:27.
OVERTIME: No scoring.
SECOND OVERTIME: No scoring.
SHOOTOUT: M goal - Geiger. FN goals - Elise Bakke, Mackenzie Kirkpatrick, Ana Solberg, Remi Vannett.
SAVES: M - Olivia Geiger 2-3-2-0-0--7. FN - Alexis Jemtrud 2-1-1-0-1--5.
Davies holds lead in suspended game
With defending champion Fargo Davies leading 1-0, the final quarterfinal game of the day was halted in the second half. Lightning strikes in the area forced a suspension of play with Davies leading St. Mary's 1-0 with 26:43 to play in the second half.
When a continuous barrage of lightning led to multiple resets of the automatic half-our game suspension, activity was shut down at the MDU Resources Community Bowl. The game will resume at 10:30 a.m. on Friday with the remainder of the regularly-scheduled games to follow, pending further weather-related developments.
Davies took its 1-0 edge on St. Mary's at 21:45 of the first half, Sophia Frappier scoring on a setup from Alyssa Paper.