JAMESTOWN, N.D. — It was fast, furious, physical and frenetic, and another word aptly describes Fargo Davies' 2-1 win over West Fargo Sheyenne in the North Dakota boys state soccer tournament semifinals on Friday: Fantastic.
In the game of the tournament so far, Davies rebounded after falling behind in the first minute and the Eagles withstood a furious Sheyenne rally in the second half to reach the state championship game for a fourth time. The Eagles play Fargo Shanley, a 1-0 winner over Grand Forks Red River in Friday's other semifinal, at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Rotary Field.
"The intensity was definitely there the entire game," said Davies midfielder Drew Beiswenger, who scored the tying goal with 31 minutes, 19 seconds left in the first half. "We're just a comeback team. We always keep the same energy, the positivity that everyone has. Just keep our heads up and keep scoring."
Keep scoring seems to be a motto of Sheyenne's Derrick Lobbo, who has scored three goals in the tournament after knocking home a shot 43 seconds into the game. Lobbo scored two goals in Thursday's quarterfinal, his first game of the season after missing two months with a broken knee cap. Davies remained composed, said Eagles coach Ian Costello.
"Lot of game left," Costello said of his initial reaction to Lobbo's lightning strike. "I went to my assistants and said, 'Well, that's a bad way to start.' You have to keep it somewhat light-hearted and positive because if you start getting negative, especially with 79 minutes left, it's going to be a long game. So the boys were composed and got the job done."
Davies took the lead on Savey Jones' goal with 8:51 left in the first half and then the Eagles and Mustangs embarked on some of the tournament's most entertaining action that didn't involve a ball hitting the back of the net.
Sheyenne goalkeeper Cooper Svaleson blocked Jones' thundering point blank shot then dove on the rebound within the first 90 seconds of the second half. After that, Sheyenne was the aggressor offensively.
"I thought they came out and beat us in the second half, to be honest," Costello said. "They just couldn't get anything in the net."
The most agonizing example of that for the Mustangs came with 3:07 left in the game when midfielder Dylan Sipe curled a shot on goal from about 30 yards out on the left side. The ball cleared leaping Davies keeper Esteban Nunez but bounced off the crossbar and out.
The Eagles closed out the final two minutes with excellently placed clearing shots that kept the Mustangs from mounting last-ditch attacks.
"I was proud of them," said Sheyenne coach Jonathan Melendez-Soloaga. "They played outstanding in the second half and in the first half. We knew it was going to come down to a one goal differential. The boys played phenomenal."
The championship game between Davies and Shanley will pose interesting storylines to go with the action.
The schools are located about four minutes apart on 25th Street in south Fargo. Davies has yet to win a state championship and while Shanley is making its sixth appearance, the Deacons have lost four times since winning it in 2008. Davies has two one-goal wins over Shanley this season, including one in which they had to rally from a goal down.
That Davies is 15-0-2 and Shanley is 7-7-4 won't affect the mindset or intensity. Beiswenger said he's pumped up about the game since he attended Shanley until switching to Davies last year.
"I'm so excited," he said. "We had a game like this with Shanley, where we got down and had to score two goals in the last 20 minutes. It's going to be a good game. They've definitely improved over the season and they deserve it."