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Becoming a Beaver: Haley Berryman sought out via Facebook

Minot State senior forward Haley Berryman (18) dribbles with the ball in a Division II women's soccer game played earlier this season at Herb Parker Stadium in Minot.

Unwilling to let a potential recruit slip away, an impatient Jason Spain turned to Facebook seeking answers. The Minot State women’s soccer head coach used social media to track down and get in contact with Haley Berryman.

The sophomore forward was tearing up the Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC) in 2016, eventually going on to lead the league in scoring with 29 goals and 62 points. Berryman was named the Eastern Region MVP and led Walla Walla Community College (Wash.) to the quarterfinals of the NWAC Tournament.

Spain was intrigued.

“I was watching games online of the NWAC,” Spain said about how he discovered Berryman. “And so, I was trying to get a hold of her and trying to get a hold of their coach. I couldn’t get anyone to call me back. So, I just asked her to be friends on Facebook. She accepted and I immediately messaged her like six seconds later. She messaged me back and I told her I wanted to bring her on an official visit.”

That fateful friend request and message caught Berryman extremely off guard, but she decided to cautiously go along with Spain’s unique approach.

MSU's Haley Berryman hugs teammate Meagan Kawahara (5) after scoring a goal in the Beavers' season opener on Aug. 30 against Black Hills State.

“It was really weird, I’m not going to lie,” Berryman said. “I got his message and I went to my coach at my community college, Jordan (Hacker), and I was like, ‘This coach messaged me on Facebook.’ And he was like, ‘That’s a little sketchy. Don’t you think?’ And I was like, ‘It’s very sketchy.’ But, he followed up with Jason (Spain) and Jason said he was going to fly me out here and I was like, ‘I could go to North Dakota and see what it’s like.’ Oddly enough, I loved it.”

Berryman, despite receiving Division I offers after her stellar sophomore campaign with Walla Walla, decided Minot State was the right fit for her.

“They had gone to the National Tournament the year before and that’s what I wanted,” she said. “I knew if I was here, then I was going to start and play. I wasn’t going to redshirt. I was just going to go out there and try to win. I didn’t want to dilly dally around and not play, because that could have happened easily. But, Jason said I was going to start and I just had to work hard. I made the right decision for sure.”

Berryman adjusted from Washington to North Dakota just fine.

Last year, in her first season with the Beavers, she was named to the All-NSIC First Team after finishing second on the team with 20 points, scoring seven goals and dishing out a team-high six assists.

“It has been a comfortable change,” Berryman said. “Jason (Spain) said we were going to win, so I said, ‘I like to win and I’m ready to go to Nationals.’ It’s going to happen.”

It didn’t happen last year.

MSU was halted by the University of Mary in the first round of the NSIC Tournament, 1-0. The Beavers were denied a bid to the NCAA Division II Tournament for the first time in three seasons.

Following that setback, Berryman is determined to get the Beavers back to the national DII postseason in her senior season. Overpowering anything that stands in her way.

“She gives a 100 percent every second of every practice and every game,” Spain said about Berryman. “She never takes a moment off. If you are going up against her in practice, then you better bring your A-game… She is like that X-Man, Juggernaut. She will run right through you and knock you into the fitness center.”

In just two games this season, Berryman is tied with Sofia Lewis for the team lead in goals with three. Although, the tiebreaker should arguably go to Berryman because Lewis had the easier task of slotting in two penalty kick goals.

Nonetheless, Berryman isn’t interested in the praise or the bright spotlight. She just wants to win.

“Now that I’m back at being a winger, it’s nice to be more comfortable, but people know how I play out there,” Berryman said. “That’s kind of frustrating. So, they man mark me. But, that’s also a good thing because I’m creating more space for my teammates. All I want to do is win and I don’t care how we win. They can man mark me all they want, as long as my team is doing well.”

MSU has started the season with a 2-0 overall record for the first time since 2015. This Saturday against Northwest Nazarene, the Beavers will attempt to win their first three games in a season for the first time since joining the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference in 2012.

It would be the perfect start for Berryman and the Beavers in their quest to reach the NCAA Tournament once again — a feat, if achieved, would surely be significant enough for Berryman to share with her 1,800-plus friends on Facebook.

Sports Spotlight is a weekly feature profiling interesting people affiliated with sports in the region. We welcome suggestions from our readers. Email the sports department at sports@minotdailynews.com.

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