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Kenan Burekovic's second-half strike sends West Fargo past Bismarck and into boys state soccer semis

Burekovic found the back of the net in the 46th minute to help the Packers advance to a Friday semifinal bout with Minot

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West Fargo celebrates their defeat of Bismarck in their quarterfinal match of the North Dakota Boys Soccer Tournament on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022, in West Fargo.
Michael Vosburg/The Forum
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WEST FARGO — Sometimes all it takes is one.

That was the case for the West Fargo boys soccer team in its state quarterfinals match with Bismarck at West Fargo High School on Thursday night.

It was Packers sophomore defender Kenan Burekovic who found the back of the net in the 46th minute, and that was the goal that eventually held up as the game winner to send East Region No. 2 seed West Fargo past West Region No. 3 Bismarck and into the state semifinals.

The Packers are now 11-5-1 and will square off with West No. 1 Minot (15-2-1) in a semifinal match at 6:45 p.m. Friday at West Fargo High School. The Demons (10-6-2) will face East No. 4 Grand Forks Red River (6-8-4) in a consolation semifinal at 2:15 p.m.

The lone goal of the game was a result of Burekovic advancing up the right side of the pitch before sending the ball past Bismarck senior goalkeeper Drew Henriksen to give the Packers the lead.

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"Teamwork and connection passing," Burekovic said. "I had a free shot coming in towards the goalie one-on-one, putting it through his legs and then it was a goal."

The victory surely felt good for Packers second-year head coach Andy Foss, who was previously the bench boss at Bismarck before accepting the West Fargo gig ahead of the 2021 season.

"Bismarck has a good team," Foss said. "They gave everything they had, they worked hard, they're organized and they played our system really well. But I think our guys were organized, as well. We trusted each other and we played our system. The first half was a little shaky but the second half was better. I thought we were able to get a little more rhythm in that second half and shoot the ball around — and it really showed on that goal. We were in the middle and it was a great ball to Kenan, Kenan finished it and then we just kind of finished out the game from there.

"The guys played hard and that's all you can ask for."

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West Fargo's Ibrahim Bangura is challenged by Bismarck’s Liam Weis during their quarterfinal match of the North Dakota Boys Soccer Tournament on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022, in West Fargo.
Michael Vosburg/The Forum

Foss said the road won't get any easier having to face the West Region's top seed Friday night. Minot is seeking its first state championship game berth since 2006 while West Fargo is hoping to get there for the first time since 2018.

"I think the guys are pretty focused for this tournament," Foss said. "They know what's at stake. It's nice to be able to host this tournament and so I think the focus is already there. They're already talking about, 'We're not done yet' and we have another tough one (Friday). So it's a quick turnaround for us and we'll get them back into school and then get them focused up on the next round."

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West Fargo's Jonathan Putnam beats Bismarck’s Logan Wetzel to the ball during their quarterfinal match of the North Dakota Boys Soccer Tournament on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022, in West Fargo.
Michael Vosburg/The Forum

Ryan Spitza joined The Forum in December 2021 as a sports reporter. He grew up in Marquette, Mich., a city of 20,000 on the southern shore of Lake Superior. He majored in multimedia journalism and minored in public relations at Northern Michigan University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in May 2019. While attending college, Spitza gained real-world experience covering high school and college athletics for both The Mining Journal and The North Wind.

Spitza can be reached at 701-451-5613 or rspitza@forumcomm.com. Follow him on Twitter @ryspitza.
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