GRAND FORKS — Minot was denied a state title in 2019 when Fargo Shanley-Oak Grove defeated the Majettes 2-1 to capture the state girls soccer championship. The Majettes watched their state-championship dreams slip away as they were crowned runners-up.
That feeling still lingered a year and a half later when the Majettes returned to the field for the first time as a team since the devastating loss. The coronavirus pandemic axed the 2020 spring sports season, but the mission remained the same.
And when Minot had the opportunity to avenge the 2019 championship loss Saturday, the Majettes left nothing to chance.
The Majettes achieved perfection as they completed their undefeated 16-0-0 season with a state championship. Minot brought home the program’s first-ever state title with a lopsided 6-0 win over Fargo Davies at Cushman Field, setting a new state record for the most goals scored by a team in a championship game since the North Dakota High School Activities Association sanctioned the sport in 1996.
“The first week of practice, we wrote down our goals. Everybody’s goal was to make and win the state championship and the WDA championship — and we accomplished that goal,” senior Lainey Sandberg said. “I think we earned it and I think we worked really hard.”
Minot’s magic never ran out. The Majettes didn’t give up a goal the entire state tournament, and conceded only four during the regular season. They outscored opponents 106-4 through all 16 games this season.
“We’ve wanted revenge, and it feels so good to get it and become the first team in Minot to get this first place,” freshman Maicee Burke said.
Sandberg opened the scoring for Minot three minutes into the match and Burke put the Magicians up 2-0 two minutes later.
It wasn’t the start Davies hoped for. The Eagles, down by two five minutes into the match, would have a big hole to climb out of.
Davies, which finished the season at 12-4-1, was playing under challenging circumstances. The championship match was the second the Eagles played on Saturday. The state semifinal against West Fargo Sheyenne started at 10:10 p.m. Friday and ended at 12:30 a.m. Saturday.
Not only was the semifinal match pushed back Friday — originally moved back two hours because of the record-breaking heat wave that hit the state and further delayed because of lightning in the game before — Saturday’s match was moved up three hours, also for the heat.
The Eagles got back to their hotel around 1:15 a.m., just over 11 hours before kickoff, but Davies head coach Nick Christianson wasn’t about to use that as an excuse.
“I told the girls at the beginning that no one is going to feel sorry for you for playing until 1 a.m. last night,” Christianson said. “It’s the challenges that present themselves and how do you deal with it. After a couple quick goals I felt like we did a nice job of continuing to compete and put our best foot forward.”
Entering Saturday’s matchup, Davies played back-to-back overtime games, reaching the championship with a shootout win in the quarterfinals and a double-OT win in the semis.
The Majettes didn’t know who they would be playing for the state title before they went to bed. They were in their hotel rooms and would wake up periodically to check their phones and try to see who was winning in the late-night semifinal.
Minot used Davies’ dramatic march to the championship to their advantage.
“We knew we needed to come out fast and we did,” said Burke, with sweat glistening on her nose. “It got them mad, and then they started getting down and we ended up coming out with a win.”
Down by two, Davies created a couple chances, but couldn’t capitalize. The Eagles had a tough time breaking down Minot’s stout and physical defensive unit.
Junior midfielder Morgan Perrin unleashed a rocket of a free kick from 25 yards out to stretch Minot’s lead to 3-0 with 11 minutes remaining in the first half, but the Majettes weren’t done yet. MaLiah Burke, Maicee’s older sister, collected her own rebound and sent it to the back of the net on a header that looped over Davies backup goalie Ashley Wynne's head.
Minot’s four first-half goals tied the previous record of goals scored, which was set by Fargo South’s 4-0 win over Jamestown in 2009.
“We had a lot of energy. In this hot weather, I know it’s really hard to keep going, but I think all of the runs we made, our wings were faster, our finishes were good,” Sandberg said. “We just put them away.”
There was only so much Davies could do against Minot’s speed and confidence. The Majettes dominated both sides of the ball for all 80 minutes.
“It’s a great learning tool for us. There’s a lot of great teams here in North Dakota, and for us to fight through and persevere from where we were at the beginning of the year and just kind of build our team from the ground up again, it’s exciting,” Christianson said. “The girls deserved to be in this game.
“Obviously the result isn’t what we wanted at the end, but we’re just excited for the future and to keep building in the right direction.”
Maicee Burke gave the Majettes a 5-0 lead on a breakaway goal five minutes into the second half. The left-footed Sandberg, one of Minot’s three seniors, put an exclamation point on the dominant victory as she sent one to the back of the net in the final 10 minutes.
NDHSCA Senior Athlete of the Year: Abby Promersberger, Fargo Shanley-Oak Grove
NDHSAA Coach of the Year: Jon Melendez, West Fargo Sheyenne