This time last year, the Minot High girls soccer team wasn't preparing for the state tournament but instead packing up for a long offseason.
The Majettes finished last season just one point out of the West Region's fourth and final state tournament spot, hampered by the inability to put the ball in the back of the net.
It was a disheartening way for the year to end, but Minot has bounced back this season and left no doubt that it would be one of the eight teams competing in this year's state tournament in Grand Forks. The Majettes the West Region's No. 2 seed plays Fargo Davies the East Region's No. 3 seed today at 6 p.m. in the first round.
"I feel like last year not making it to the state tournament really put a lot of fire into our hearts," Minot junior forward Taryn Love said. "It got us motivated for this year especially because we're losing more than one senior, we want to play our hardest not only for our seniors but the entire team."
The scoring woes that plagued the Majettes last season were nonexistent this year. Minot scored 25 goals in 12 games and were held scoreless just twice both to defending state champion Century. Love leads the Majettes with 13 goals and seven others have recorded at least one. Junior forward Teasha Hughes is second on the team with three goals.
"We had a talented team and we were competitive last year, but we just found a way to lose instead of win," Minot coach Matt Pfau said. "This year, the girls came in with a lot of confidence and we figured out a way to score early in the year and got more confident as the season went on."
Minot (10-2) went 5-2 against teams in the state tournament. The Majettes' only contest against the East Region came in the East-West Crossover to open the season in mid-April, a 3-1 victory over Grand Forks Red River. The Roughriders are the fourth seed.
Like the Majettes, Davies (11-3-1) can score, evident by its 59 goals. The Eagles scored five or more goals in seven contests this season. Pfau said defense will play a pivotal role throughout the weekend , which has been Minot's strong suit.
"They've been great, "Pfau said. "We've given up four goals in 12 games. They've kept us in every game. I'm confident they're going to do the same thing this weekend.
"Your back line is going to have to keep you in games. Offensively, you're going to play against good teams all three games and you're going to get four or five quality chances to score each game."
Davies is led by senior Kenzie Carlson and junior Reiley Klose, who've combined to score 31 goals this season. The Eagles are 2-0 against the West Region this year, posting shutout victories over St. Mary's and Mandan.
"Davies is always been a strong team coming from the East," Love said. "There's always good competition coming from the East. We're not underestimating them at all and we're ready to take whatever they bring at us."
If the Majettes play like they have all season, Pfau said he likes his team's chances.
"It's really going to come down to who does the little things well this weekend," Pfau said. "Whichever team limits their mistakes will have a chance to win three games."