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North Dakota state girls soccer tournament: Spartans streaking into tournament

Fargo North girls soccer coach Cordell Sinding takes every season as a new opportunity. However, that doesn't necessarily mean the Spartans have forgotten about last year. "I think (last year) plays a part," said junior Noel Scherer, whose team w...

Fargo North's Noel Scherer
Fargo North's Noel Scherer runs toward the ball during soccer practice Wednesday. Dave Wallis / The Forum

Fargo North girls soccer coach Cordell Sinding takes every season as a new opportunity.

However, that doesn't necessarily mean the Spartans have forgotten about last year.

"I think (last year) plays a part," said junior Noel Scherer, whose team was defeated by Fargo South 1-0 in last season's state title game. "We know how good it feels to get to the championship game. We know we can get there. It just has to do with who wants it more."

North (9-1-2) will play Jamestown (5-4-1) at 4 p.m. today in the first round of the North Dakota Class A state girls soccer tournament at Fargo's Pepsi Soccer Complex.

The Spartans, who last won the state crown in 2006, earned the East's top seed after reeling off seven consecutive wins to end the season.

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The streak is all the more impressive considering the season was cut short by massive statewide flooding.

The Spartans' calling card has been dominant defensive play.

North has allowed just nine goals this season. First-year starting goalkeeper Angie Waller has seven shutouts and a 0.71 goals against average.

And consider this:

The Spartans' 3-1 loss to Fargo Shanley this season was played without standout defender Jamie St. Germain, who was sidelined with kidney stones.

North has allowed just two goals since St. Germain's return.

"They just do what they need to do," senior midfielder Asha Throntveit said of the Spartans defenders. "If nothing else, they kick it out. They know how to get back. If you don't have good defense, it's really hard to win. I think defense is more important than offense."

But the offense has been just fine with the forward combination of Alyssa Dehne and Molly Gunkelman. Dehne leads the team with 10 goals. Gunkelman has seven goals.

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The Spartans finished first in the Eastern Dakota Conference with 49 goals.

This year's state tournament could be more wide open than it's ever been due to the shortened season and the inability of the East and West to schedule games.

Coaches and players will be flying blind in the first round.

Sinding said he believes it's the first time teams from the state's two conferences haven't played each other heading into state in the tournament's 13-year history.

"It's going to be exciting," Sinding said. "... I think everybody is worried. I know we're worried about what we're going to see against Jamestown. In the past, the No. 1 seed has whipped the No. 4 seed. I don't think it will happen this year."

Today's games

at Pepsi Complex, Fargo

-Fargo North vs. Jamestown, 4 p.m.

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-Bismarck St. Mary's vs. Fargo Shanley, 4 p.m.

-Bismarck Century vs. Grand Forks Red River, 6 p.m.

-Fargo South vs. Minot, 6 p.m.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Heath Hotzler at (701) 241-5562.

Hotzler's blogs can be found at www.areavoices.com

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