WATCH: High School girls soccer practices kick off in North Dakota
Davies tries to bounce back after last year's surprising first-round exit, Sheyenne hopes to build on returning all-state talent
FARGO — It only took one goal to end the near-perfect season for Davies High School girls soccer last year. A 1-0 loss to Mandan in the state quarterfinals was the team's first and only defeat of the year.
"Anytime you make it to the state tournament, anything can happen," said head coach Nick Christianson. "We didn't play our best game and the girls have that in the back of their head a little bit."
"It made us very aware that there are other teams that you can have a slip up and it can cost you other games and a championship," said senior midfielder Ashlyn Sands.
The Eagles graduated eight seniors last year, which means a new set of leaders need to step up. Their message to younger teammates is to stay hungry and humble.
"You need to put in that effort to be able to get there in the first place. It's not just going to be given to you," said senior midfielder Addy Lura. "You need to work harder to get your spot on the team and get your starting position."
"A big thing is just coming back stronger and then maintaining who we are because we don't want to change our game," Sands said. "We play the way we play. It's just getting stronger together and becoming more united."
Although this team has a winning culture, the atmosphere isn’t always just business.
"We did some team bonding. Made some cupcakes, got to bond with a few of the JV players. We've done Just Dance before, and then cherry Berry is a big one for us," Lura said.
"(The younger players) hearing our experiences allows us to kind of get closer and so they kind of feel what we feel," Sands said.
In the gym at Sheyenne high school, the Mustangs girls soccer team began its search for a sixth-straight state tournament appearance. Even with five seniors gone to graduation, Sheyenne returns three all-state players to the 2023 roster.
"We lost a lot of seniors last year, but we have a lot of young players that are going to provide for the team, bring new skills and help us out with that," said senior forward Lindsey Erickson. "Hopefully win a lot of games and having new players and learning how to play with each other."