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Bismarck edges Minot in soccer showdown
Cracking Minot’s stingy defense was going to take something special.
Tresor Mugwaneza and Mason Stotz delivered for Bismarck High Thursday night at the Sanford Sports Complex.
The pair of sparkling goals lifted the Demons to a 2-1 win over Minot in a showdown of the top two teams in the West Region. Coming into the Thursday’s marquee matchup, the Magicians had allowed just five goals in 12 games.
“Minot is a very good team. We knew we’d have to play at our best to come out on top … and we did,” Mugwaneza said. “This is a very important win, to get three points, but we still have a lot to do. A lot of big things we want to do.”
The Demons, who improved to 9-1-1 overall and 7-1-1 in the West Region, got one special delivery in each half.
Mugwaneza’s skillfully finished goal came just seconds after Minot nearly broke the ice.
“I needed to score for my team,” Mugwaneza said. “So far this year, that was my most important goal.”
It came just seconds after Minot almost scored first.
Nicolas Pecoraro nearly barrel-rolled the ball into the net, clanging it off the cross bar with his left foot. The Demons scooped up the loose ball. Mugwaneza took possession near midfield and after weaving around multiple Magi defenders, bent the ball into the lower-right corner. Dane Allen delivered a deft touch pass to earn an assist.
“Minot is very difficult to score on. Creighton (Bachmeier) does such a great job with them. They’re so organized, you know it’s going to be tough,” BHS coach Andy Foss said. “You’re not going to get any gifts against them. You have earn it.”
Mason Stotz put Bismarck up 2-0 on a goal soon not to be forgotten. From the 30-yard-line on the football field, Stotz left-footed in a perfectly placed free kick that traveled upwards of 40 yards, bounced near the goal box before nestling into the top left corner of the frame. Minot keeper Jaden Francis, who had 15 saves on the night, had no shot.
“I was just trying to get it close so one of my teammates could maybe head it in,” said Stotz of his perfect strike. “When I hit it I was like, ‘Oh, that’s gotta a chance.’ But you never expect it to go in. The adrenaline was pumping pretty high after that.”
Minot, which suffered its first West Region loss, did not go quietly into the pleasant Bismarck night.
With just over 20 minutes left, Avery Weishaar sent in a deep free kick which Zac Schmidt made a tricky first save on. But the rebound caromed to the top of the box and Minot defender Hadley Thomas slid in perfectly to bury it and cut the lead in half.
“I really like playing in games like this against teams like Bismarck,” Bachmeier said. “I really like what my kids did. In soccer, there’s a very fine line between winning and losing, especially when you have two high-quality teams like this.
“Tonight, it went their way. Bismarck is well-coached and they do a lot of things really well. Ultimately, I think games like this are great preparation for what we want to do and where we want to go.”
Schmidt finished with six saves, including a banner stop late to keep the lead intact. With less than seven minutes left, Schmidt dove to his left to rob Evan Bolinske of the equalizer.
“Minot keeps coming at you. They have a lot of speed. They have many skilled players … it was just a really fun game to watch,” Foss said. “I’m really happy with our team and how we played, but we have another game coming up on Saturday against Jamestown and it’s never easy to win there, so we have to turn our attention to that now.”
While it was just one game in the grand scheme, the Demons understood the significance.
“Minot is a great team. We knew it’d be like this,” Stotz said. “Anytime you beat a team like that, you have to feel good, but we won’t feel too good. We have to get back to work.”