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BHS edges Century in WDA soccer championship game
Three matchups, three one-goal games. The question many at the Bowl had on Saturday, will there be a fourth?
For now, the Demons took the rubber match over the Patriots on Saturday. The 2-1 win gave Bismarck High a trophy -- West Region soccer tournament champions.
Babu Ramadhani's header off a feed from West Region Player of the Year Rodrigue Mugisha was the difference for the Demons in its one-goal victory.
"It was a good game. I think two of the best teams played today," BHS coach Ricardo Pierre-Louis said. "It was a difficult game. Century is a very good team but we came out on top and I'm happy with the result."
The Demons improved to 12-1-2 overall with the win. Their lone loss coming against Century, which is now 11-2-2.
Century, understandably, took a bit to kick it into gear. The vast majority of the Patriots' roster had been on quarantine for two weeks and had not played in three.
"For most of our guys coming off three weeks of not playing a meaningful game as a starting unit, there was definitely some rust," Century coach Ryan Okerson said. "I thought we held the ball very well. We just struggled with unforced errors on passes. We probably left four-to-five really good scoring opportunities on the pitch. We just gotta be better and finish those chances.
"Bismarck only really had the one good chance in the second half and they finished it. Give them credit."
Both teams had already qualified for next week's state tournament. In a unique, pandemic-related twist, the Demons and Patriots will start state at home. At 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Century hosts Grand Forks Red River. Bismarck, the defending state champions, and Fargo Davies will follow. Both games will be played at the Bowl.
Ramadhani, just a sophomore, delivered the winner. It was his eighth goal of the season, set up by Mugisha, who notched his 10th assist to go with his 19 goals.
"Rod was huge for us," Pierre-Louis said of Mugisha. "He's very good technically and he's strong with the ball. He was really good for us today."
The Demons scored first as sophomore Owen Haase stepped up to the spot and fired home a penalty kick in the 14th minute.
Century equalized seven minutes later as all-region honorees hooked up for a goal. Nico Helderop was able to squeeze it past Century keeper Ben Cleary to make it 1-1. Kaiden Campbell assisted.
It stayed 1-1 until the hour mark when Ramadhani put the Demons in front.
"A lot of the time when Bismarck and Century get together, ability goes out the window and it comes down to who wants it more and who's willing to put the extra work in," Okerson said. "Our kids competed. Both teams played hard. Obviously, we're just kind of in a strange situation where a bunch of our guys hadn't played in a while and then you come out and you're facing a team like BHS. But that's OK. I thought we took a step forward."
With the quick turnaround, there's no looking back.
"We don't have anybody for BHS or Century that's banged up. We got out of here healthy and now it's on to Tuesday," Okerson said. "We're excited for that opportunity, so we'll turn our focus to Red River."
Tuesday's winners advance to the semifinals Friday at Fargo South.
"Winning WDA today, we're excited about that. Now we have to get a game plan ready for Fargo Davies," Pierre-Louis said. "Our goal is to win the first game, get to the final four, then we'll go from there."