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Miss to motivation

Adam Spooner remembers the anguish he felt as he watched the ball at the end of last year's North Dakota state boys soccer championship game. First, it looked like the ball was going straight toward the goalkeeper. Then it curled toward the pole....

Adam Spooner remembers the anguish he felt as he watched the ball at the end of last year's North Dakota state boys soccer championship game.

First, it looked like the ball was going straight toward the goalkeeper. Then it curled toward the pole.

The result changed Spooner's outlook for the upcoming high school soccer season.

A junior on the Fargo South soccer team, Spooner was shooting a penalty kick in a deciding shootout against Grand Forks Red River. It was the fourth shot by Fargo South. The previous three found gold.

Jim Stanislowski, Grand Forks' goalie, dove and tipped the ball outside the post with his outstretched hands.

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The crowd went silent.

Spooner froze.

It was a miraculous save, a fluke grab, a mis-kick by Spooner.

But the senior doesn't see it that way. He sees it as a missed opportunity -- one that he will use as motivation for this year's season.

For it was that save that stopped Fargo South from winning its fifth straight state title.

"I thought it was a bad dream," he said. "I knew it was going to be the only one that missed. It's hard not letting those seniors go out with a state championship."

Now Spooner and a few other seniors will try for that elusive state title. This time, Spooner says he won't let it slip by him when it is so close.

There's no doubt that it won't be as easy of a task to make it to the state title this year.

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For one, the team lost two of the best players in the state, forward Brandon Root and defender Troy Cossette.

In addition, the likes of Grand Forks Red River will be back this year, as well as Fargo North, which won the Eastern Dakota Conference title last year.

Second-year coach Dean Hashbarger acknowledges the loss of his top two players will be difficult to overcome. He has no predictions as far as how his team will do.

"It's yet to be seen," he said. "You just don't lose those kids who were as great as they were. The potential to be all-around better is there. It takes time to grow as a team.

"They don't have to be a Brandon Root or Troy Cossette. They just have to be who they are. They need to set their own traditions."

There are aspects of the team that are encouraging to Hashbarger.

He said the team is strong offensively and in the goalkeeper position.

South also has a large junior varsity team, leaving plenty of players to come up in future years.

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For a variety of reasons, Fargo South is excited about its chances.

"Our teamwork and confidence," are strong, defender Jonathan Foss said. "When we are in a group, we are all friends. Our teamwork is going to be the best attribute to how hard we work."

If Fargo South makes it to the championship game again and they are forced into a penalty kick shootout, one thing is for sure:

Spooner will take that kick.

He won't volunteer; he will demand to be one of the first in line.

"No one in this state wants it as much as I do," he said. "I want to redeem myself for that shot."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Michael Klinski at (701) 235-7311

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