The Minot High School soccer team is off to a rough start for a team loaded with upperclassmen. The Magicians (1-3-1 overall, 0-2-1 West Region) have scored just four goals outside of a 7-1 blowout of Grand Forks Central, but coach Cody Saunders is far from panicking.
"As a coach, you have high expectations and high hopes for your team and things just kind of haven't gone our way, actually," Saunders said. "Biggest thing is we're not really scoring. I'm not worried. I trust the guys. They're working hard in practice and getting better."
MHS is coming off a 2-1 loss to Bismarck High on Tuesday and Saunders thought his team played well and described the Demons' first half goals as "phenomenal."
Minot High School junior Jay Gray heads the ball in a game against Century earlier this season at Optimist Soccer Complex.
Senior Jacob Schmidt scored early in the second half, but quality opportunities remained seldom.
A different player scored each of the team's last four goals and junior Ekow Annan leads the squad with four on the season, including three against Central. Senior Ryan Crabtree has a goal and three assists.
Annan finished second on the team in 2012 with 24 goals, three behind his older brother P.K., who graduated in May.
"They just have to gel as a team and they're starting to do it," Saunders said. "It's just a matter of them getting comfortable and trusting each other."
MHS can get back to .500 with a pair of wins this weekend. The Magicians play at Jamestown on Friday and host Mandan at 1 p.m. Saturday. Saunders said his team will have to watch for Jamestown's offsides trap and be ready for a physical Mandan backline. A stout defense is expected to continue keeping MHS in games.
"The biggest thing is (our defenders are) winning the ball in the air and if they can do that it limits the counter attacks," Saunders said.
Tennis team relying on top of lineup
The Minot High School boys tennis team may not be as strong as it's been throughout the lineup in previous years, but the Magicians are near perfect at the top.
MHS junior No. 1 Dustin Foster and senior No. 2 Isaac Massey are a combined 16-1 in singles matches this season.
"They've done everything we've asked them do to so far in the year," MHS coach Scott DeLorme said. "They're doing everything they can and we're going to continue to rely on them heavily."
Doing everything includes leading their respective doubles teams to undefeated records through three West Region duals. Foster pairs with senior Grayson Bahl at No. 1 and Massey plays with junior Drew Thomas at No. 2.
Neither pair gave up more than two games in straight-set wins over Dickinson and both grinded out wins against Bismarck High on Thursday. Foster and Bahl beat the Demons top pair with a 6-0 third set.
As a team, MHS beat BHS 8-1 to rebound from a 5-4 loss to Williston two days earlier.
"One thing that's impressed me was just our improvement last week," DeLorme said. "I thought when we got back Wednesday we had a great practice."
The Magicians (2-1 overall, 2-1 West Region) travel to Jamestown for a 4 p.m. match Friday against the experienced Blue Jays.
Gathman leads improving volleyball team
Century handled the Minot High volleyball team easily in the first two games of Tuesday's match in Bismarck. MHS fell 25-14 and 25-9 and coach Ellen Jebens decided it was time for a different approach.
The Majettes (4-4 overall, 0-1 West Region) still dropped the third game, but with a respectable 28-26 score.
"We changed our game plan entirely from what we went in with in the first game," Jebens said. "We just started moving more at the net. We were running more patterns and playing faster, lower balls. We were down-and-out pretty much after the first two and I tried to pep them up and tell them to try a new idea."
Playing faster is a point of emphasis ahead of Tuesday's home opener against Mandan, especially after finding late success against the defending state champion Patriots this week.
The Bismarck schools hosted a season-opening tournament over the weekend and the Majettes picked up three wins on Saturday against East Region opponents.
"We found what we think is the best position for each of the players, so that was good to see a lot of games and get a lot of reps," Jebens said.
Senior co-captain and setter Ashley Gathman is playing well early in the season and leads the team in assists. She recorded 15 in a win over Valley City.
"She really played well and she had to," Jebens said. "All the offense goes through her and she just did a really good job on defense. Overall, all the girls have had their moments, but she's been solid."
Tim Chapman covers Minot High School athletics. Follow him on Twitter @chapmatp.