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BHS defense slows down Century
Bismarck coach Andy Foss knew his team had to be good — really good — defensively on Saturday.
Going against an unbeaten Century team that had surrendered just one goal in 10 games, Foss knew scoring would be at a minimum. Consequently BHS had to be ultra-stingy against a team averaging 3.7 goals per game.
BHS goalkeeper Easton Ford stopped nine Century shots behind stalwart defense as the Demons claimed a 1-0 victory over the Patriots at the Sanford Sports Complex.
Ethan Stotz tallied the game's only goal at 13:19 of the first half.
"Our back line played an unbelievable game. They stepped up tonight," Foss said of defenders Preston Wachter, Christian Walth, Stotz and Ben Havelka.
With the victory, Bismarck moved to within a win of first place in the West Region with two games remaining.
Century, 7-1-0 in regional play, has 21 points with a home game with Minot on Tuesday and a road game with Mandan next Saturday remaining.
BHS 6-2-0 in the region with 18 points, visits Jamestown next Saturday and plays Legacy on Oct. 2. The Demons also have a non-regional game with Mandan on Tuesday.
"I think this does keep us alive for the No. 1 seed ... and it was good for our guys. This was our senior class' first win over Century in their time here. ... So to walk out of here with a win was big for us," Foss said.
Century coach Ryan Okerson said both CHS and BHS are pretty well set for tournament season.
"Realistically the seedings at this point don't mean too much for us with the top two teams playing for the (regional tournament) championship," he observed.
The way the regional tournament is set up, the two top teams in the regular-season standings are drawn straight into the championship match at the regional tournament. That guarantees both teams a berth in the state tournament.
"We're still in the driver's seat (in the regular-season race). This just puts a little more urgency on our next two matches," Okerson added.
Stotz, a 6-foot, 155-pound freshman, scored his first goal of the season off a corner kick by Caden Evanson. Evanson floated the ball from the right corner and Stotz, about 15 yards out, fired a low shot into the left corner of the net.
"(Evanson's kick) went through about six people. I saw the ball in the clear and just kicked it. It was wide open. I knew I had a chance, so I threw my foot into it. The ball actually bounced off the post, hit the goalie (Austin Underhill) in the back and went in," Stotz said.
That shot was the only one to escape Underhill, who made six saves, three in each half. Bismarck keeper Easton Ford turned away five shots in the first half and four after intermission.
Without exaggeration, Okerson said missed opportunities cost his team dearly.
The Patriots' first offensive thrust set the tone. Seth Kalberer broke free in the second minute of the game, but missed wide to the right. In the 30th minute, Jacob Holtz sent a shot sailing just inches above the crossbar, the first of three such CHS near-misses.
In the final minute, Ford stopped Holtz on a shot from the right wing for his final save of the night.
Foss said his team showed up mentally ready to compete.
"The guys came out really focused. ... Both teams came out with a lot of energy," he noted.
The Demons executed their game play well, according to Foss.
"Century is so dangerous. ... We wanted to possess the ball. Move the ball and make (Century) defend for long periods of time," Foss said.
Okerson said Bismarck's win was not a fluke.
"They played very well. They were very on their game tonight," he noted. "We missed on some opportunities. ... Our guys weren't switched on tonight. BHS was switched on and played hard. They deserved to win."
- Steve Thomas - Bismarck Tribune