Last September, Alex Bachman-Williams' University of Mary squad beat Taylor Bachman-Williams' Minot State University team 2-0 at Herb Parker Stadium.
"Literally after the game, we all cried for a half-hour," said their mother, Ronda Bachman-Williams. "Taylor and Alex just held each other and bawled."
The sisters grew up playing together on club teams and at Minot High School and felt uncomfortable on opposing sides. When the Marauders and Beavers play at the Bismarck Community Bowl at 1 p.m. today, a third Bachman-Williams will be in the mix - freshman defender Bailey joins Alex, a junior forward, at Mary this season.
Bailey Bachman-Williams and Taylor Bachman-Williams will join older sister Alex at 1 p.m. today at the Bismarck Community Bowl. Bailey, pitcured here playing for Minot High School last season, plays alongside Alex at the University of Mary and Taylor plays for Minot State University.
Bailey won't play, as Mary is still finalizing her eligibility. She is also coming off an injury and may redshirt this season.
Taylor, a sophomore at MSU, started at defender for the Beavers in their season-opening win over Minnesota State University-Moorhead on Thursday. Unlike last season, when Taylor played forward, there could be times when Taylor and Alex are on the ball at the same time.
"It's the hardest thing I have to do because I have to go with my natural instincts just to win," Alex said, "but also to go against somebody I'm used to standing next to."
Said Taylor: "It's not that much fun because obviously I'm used to playing with them both. You just can't look at it like, 'Hey they're your sister.' It has to be, 'They're your opponent.' But obviously, it's still a little uncomfortable."
Raising three college soccer players is no small commitment.
The Bachman-Williams girls, each just a year apart, played club soccer beginning in the U10 age division - tallying massive travel expenses in the process, not to mention the time it took Ronda and husband Jim Bachman-Williams to shuttle the girls to practices and games.
"I don't think anybody really understands how much it takes time-wise and financially," said Ronda, who owns the Corner Stone Cafe in Rugby with Jim. "They don't just play during the high school season. They have winter soccer, they have summer soccer. But it was always our position that if our daughters were really good at something, we would support them."
The girls' talent for soccer was apparent early as they grew up in Crescent City, Calif.
"They started at four and five," Ronda said. "Literally from the very beginning, on their team they were always the ones that were scoring and always the ones recognized for being really good at it."
When the family moved to a farm in Rugby six years ago, Bailey said Jim acquired a goal for the sisters to practice on "right away."
The commitment of Jim and Ronda to their daughters' soccer careers even caused the family to temporarily split up. Jim worked and lived in Minot so the girls were eligible to play at MHS. When the flood hit in 2011, Jim moved into a Federal Emergency Management Agency trailer until Bailey completed her senior year.
"My parents are very, very important and they helped us get where we are today," Taylor said.
Ronda said soccer success has given her daughters a sense of confidence.
"I'm sure we could've purchased college education for them with all the money we spent," she said, "but the trade-off is giving them something they can do that they enjoy and they're really good at."
One beneficiary of the Bachman-Williams' commitment to soccer is Matt Pfau, who has coached girls soccer at MHS for 11 years.
"It was nice to have girls you knew were gonna be good that you could count on every year," he said. "When that group of girls got here, we made it to the state tournament every year for four years and got second one year and fourth another year. It really helped our program turn the corner."
Bailey and Taylor, especially, developed their skills by playing against older competition. When Bailey was 15 and Taylor was 16, they played on a U19 team so all three sisters could play together, Ronda said.
On one team, Bailey played defense, Alex played midfield and Taylor played forward. The girls' familiarity with each other paid off as they anticipated moves the others would make.
"Taylor's really fast and then Alex is really strong with the ball, and I'm just a tiny bit of both," Bailey said. "A little faster than Alex and a little more control than Taylor."
Both MSU and Mary recruited Bailey - with a little help from her sisters.
"Taylor would call and say 'You need to come to Minot,' " Bailey said. "I would get off the phone and Alex would call a little bit later and say, 'You need to come to Mary.' "
Bailey ultimately chose Mary because of its nursing program.
"We both kind of just let her pick what she wanted," Alex said. "We both want to be with our sister, but I didn't want to pressure her into a decision that she might regret later."
Today, all three Bachman-Williamses will be in the same place. Taylor said she's excited to see her sisters, but knows someone won't leave the field happy.
"There's gonna be a winner and there's gonna be a loser, unless we tie," she said. "Either way, someone's gonna be upset. ... None of us really like losing."
The match marks the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference opener for both teams, and MSU's first NSIC match in history.