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Demons riding hot streak into postseason

10/02/18 (Tue)

Bismarck High's run-in to postseason play is picking up serious steam.

Heading into tonight's regular-season soccer finale against Legacy High at Sanford Sports Complex, the Demons have won six straight matches by the combined scores of 22-2. Yes, 22 goals in six matches.

Considering the star power the defending state champs graduated, that may not have been unexpected. BHS head coach Andy Foss is not overly surprised, however.

"We knew we had good players, we just didn't know who was going to step up for us," Foss said. "Those things just kind of happen throughout the course of the season. You can't force it, you just have to let it play out. I think what's been encouraging is that we've been making pretty steady improvement and there are still things we can do better."

Junior Mason Stotz was among the top players in the state when the season started and he's only enhanced his reputation. Stotz can play anywhere on the pitch and has this season. Lately, the Demons have been able to deploy Stotz more as an attacking player and the results speak for themselves. He leads the West Region with 11 goals.

"Mason's one of those kids that can fill whatever role you need him to," Foss said. "What's been nice is that our backline has been playing so well, we've been able to move Mason to more of an advanced role and he's shown how good he can be scoring goals and creating chances for other players."

Skilled senior Abdoul Sow has netted five goals for the Demons, but from there, the attack can come from anymore.

Junior Michael Matthews is coming off a two-goal performance on Saturday against Jamestown. Caden Evanson, a senior, is plenty dangerous in the midfield. Foss also had high praise for junior midfielders Mikane Aberle and Zach Devine along with sophomore Eddie Rasidovic.

"This team's M.O. has been sharing the ball and spreading the wealth to where it makes it difficult for our opponents to focus on one or two players," Foss said. "We have a number of players who are dangerous and it's been fun to see that develop."

The back row also has hit its stride. After allowing four goals to Mandan on Sept. 6, they've surrendered just two over six games as seniors Ben Havelka, Preston Wachter and Christian Walth plus freshman Ethan Stotz, Mason's brother, have formed a curtain in front of reliable junior goalie Easton Ford, who ranks second in the West Region with 84 saves. Only Legacy's Lucas Weigel (95) has more.

"The backline in soccer doesn't get a lot of headlines particularly when they're playing well but those guys have really come together as a group and they take pride in what they do," Foss said. "And when you have a guy like Easton back there directing traffic, you have to feel really good about that."

Another big boost came Sept. 22 when the Demons handed Century its only loss of the season in a 1-0 slugfest. The victory held special meaning for the Demons' seniors who had not experienced a win over the Patriots in their careers.

"Century has a fantastic program. Ryan (Okerson) has those kids playing really well so that was a big win for our kids psychologically more than anything else," Foss said. "We've been on the losing end so many times against Century it was really nice to be able to come out on top."

The third meeting between BHS and Century is already set -- Saturday in the West Region championship game at Mandan's Centennial Park. Prior to the championship game, two state-qualifiers will be played, beginning at noon. Jamestown (No. 5) and Legacy (No. 6) already know their seeds. Mandan and Minot will be Nos. 3 and 4, pending tonight's outcome. The Magi host the Braves at 7:30 p.m. Minot enters the game with 16 points. Mandan has 15.

Both the Demons and Patriots have sewn up trips to state next week in Grand Forks, but both would like to add a little more hardware to the trophy case.

"It's always an intense rivalry between BHS and Century. There's always a little edge to it," Foss said. "Both teams are going to play hard. Ryan and I are going to coach to win, but at end of the day it's nice to know we're both going to make the state tournament no matter what happens."


- Dave Selvig - Bismarck Tribune


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