K.J. Wright can very quietly make a big impact on a soccer game.
The soft-spoken sophomore midfielder scored the most impressive goal of Tuesday's West Region game against Mandan High School at Optimist Soccer Complex.
With Minot High ahead 1-0 late in the first half, Wright made a strong diagonal run from the left sideline and blasted a near-perfectly struck ball from the semicircle at the top of the 18-yard box.
Minot High School sophomore K.J. Wright makes a move on a Mandan defender in the Magicians’ 3-0 win Tuesday at Optimist Soccer Complex.
Mandan senior goalkeeper Brendan Ereth didn't stand a chance as the ball slammed into the upper right side of the net.
Wright's goal, which was sandwiched between two scores from sophomore Ekow Annan in the 3-0 win, was a pleasant surprise for MHS coach Cody Saunders.
"That was a rifle, a right-footed rifle into the corner and it's good to see because he's one of our more shy guys," Saunders said. "To see him strike that really meant a lot to us because we've been trying to get that out of him and to see it in the game finally was just like, 'Yes! Please, yes!' "
Wright was a problem for the Braves (0-5 overall, 0-3 region) much of the night because of his speed with the ball and ability to disrupt the limited possession Mandan had. He described himself as more of a distributor than a scorer, but isn't afraid to take a chance.
"I just saw that they spread apart a little bit, so I stepped in there, (hit) it real good," Wright said.
MHS (2-1-1, 1-1) controlled possession for about 80 percent of the game and scored in the 13th minute on Ekow Annan's low shot off a header his brother, senior P.K. Annan, directed across the box.
Ekow Annan's second goal came midway through the second half when he spun around in the box and struck a low shot with his left foot into the left side.
"It was a big relief to get that first goal off our shoulders," Ekow Annan said. "Once we had that first one I think we gained a lot of confidence and started doing things the right way."
MHS finished with 16 shots on goal and about 10 other shots that sailed well above the crossbar. Mandan didn't place one shot on goal, leaving MHS junior goalkeepers Garrett Weishaar and Jake Saunders unchallenged in their combined shutout.
"Right now, Minot, they have some really good striking ability," Mandan coach Tyler Gerhardt said. "There's a few guys out there with some real good individual talent and they're their targets and they played 'em well."
As the two forwards, the Annan brothers are the top targets, but Ekow Annan is fine having Wright join the mix.
"I think K.J. has a lot of potential," Ekow Annan said. "He hasn't been playing soccer for very long, but he's picked up pretty quick and he's learning and just keeps getting better. I think as players that's what we all should be doing."
The Magicians travel to Bismarck St. Mary's for an 8 p.m. match Thursday.