With Minot High girls soccer clinging to a one-goal lead against Bismarck, junior goalkeeper Kaitlyn Stenberg was put to the test in the game's waning moments.
Following a Minot turnover in the 79th minute, Bismarck forward Nicole Drew embarked on a 35-yard run down the left wing. Her resulting cross sailed into the box with pace, eventually landing at the feet of senior striker Kenzie Kiefer, who turned on Stenberg with a point-blank opportunity to equalize.
"I was thinking that it was my time to do my job," Stenberg said. "The team may not need me all 80 minutes, but when it's my time, I need to go to work."
Minot High junior striker Taryn Love (5) outruns Bismarck defenders Ilsa Neumiller (2) and Kennedy Hageness on a breakaway. Love scored the deciding goal 12 minutes into the contest.
Minot striker Teasha Hughes touches a pass behind Bismarck defender Brenna Berg.
Job well done.
Stenberg calmly collected Keifer's shot, the Demons' best scoring chance of the night, clinching a narrow 1-0 West Region victory for the Majettes on Thursday at Herb Parker Stadium.
Minot coach Matt Pfau was admittedly fearing the worst when Kiefer found herself in on goal.
"You're thinking to yourself, 'We outplayed a team for 78 minutes and now we're gonna give a late one away,'" Pfau said. "But Stenberg came up big for us in goal and got another shutout. That was huge for us."
While Stenberg's save was crucial, she didn't have much to do against the Demons.
Bismarck managed only two shots on target, both of which came in the final 30 minutes.
The Majettes (7-1 overall, 5-1 region) tested Bismarck senior goalkeeper Sara Bachmeier 11 times.
"It would have been awesome to tie it, but to be honest, we were fairly lucky that it was only 1-0 at that point," Bismarck coach Carly Feiler said. "I felt like our goalkeeper played a hell of a game and did really well for us. We had some good moments, but we could never quite get things going."
Minot junior striker Taryn Love was the match-winner for the Majettes.
In the 12th minute, Minot sophomore Alicia Feehan played a perfectly weighted through ball to Love, who collected the pass cleanly on a breakaway.
Despite pressure from two Bismarck defenders, Love powered her way into the box and finished her chance over Bachmeier's right shoulder and into the back of the net.
"Taryn can finish those chances," Pfau said. "She had three or four chances like that tonight where she made the right runs, got on the ball and then shot it right at the goalie, but that happens."
Seventeen minutes after the opening goal, Love had a pair of chances go begging in a three-minute span.
With just over 10 minutes left in the first half, sophomore Bethany Ploof found love with an overhead pass that put Love in behind the Bismarck defense. The ball bouncing, Bachmeier narrowly beat Love to it to eliminate the threat.
Moments later, Ploof found Love again with another accurate through ball, this time controlled early enough by Love to prevent Bachmeier from leaving her net. But Love's shot went straight into Bachmeier's arms, keeping the score within one.
"For me, I look to pass way too much when I should just take to goal," Love said. "So when I take to goal, I get nervous because I always look to make that pass.
"I know myself. I psych myself out, and that's just something I need to work on, that when I get up there, I need to be confident that I can score."
The scoring opportunities kept coming for the Majettes in the second half.
Five minutes into the final 40, Minot senior Chenoa Erz headed a through pass to forward Teasha Hughes, who found space behind Bismarck defender Brenna Berg and rifled a shot from 30 yards out.
The shot sailed over Bachmeier, hit the left post and then the right post before being cleared.
"Their pace up top was probably the deciding factor in the game," Feiler said. "I thought we had moments where we looked good and could play with them, but that was hands-down the most dangerous aspect of their game."
Minot travels for a non-region clash with Fargo South on Saturday at 2 p.m.
Joe Mellenbruch covers high school sports and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @Mellenbruch_MDN.