Majettes soccer beats Bismarck 2-0, wins second straight WDA title

Justin Martinez/MDN Minot High School sophomore Lainey Sandberg (7) pushes the ball downfield during the Majettes’ 2-0 win over Bismarck on Thursday in the West Region championship at Mandan Centennial Park.

MANDAN – Lainey Sandberg provided the offense. The Majettes’ defense did the rest.

Just seven minutes had passed in the No. 2-seeded Minot High School girls soccer team’s West Region title match against top-seeded Bismarck High on Thursday, and the sophomore forward already had bad intentions on her mind.

After getting the ball into opposing territory, the Majettes found themselves with a quality look at the net when junior Olivia Lewis sent a lob into the box. Surrounded by a cluster of Bismarck jerseys, the ball found the foot of Sandberg, and the sophomore didn’t disappoint.

Just a few feet away from the net, Sandberg sent a bullet of a shot in the direction of Bismarck goalie Olivia Dickerson. Before she could react, the ball was in the back of the net for the first goal of the contest.

This wasn’t the only time the sophomore bested the Demons’ defense under the bright lights of Mandan Centennial Park, though, as Sandberg netted two goals to lead the Majettes to a 2-0 victory over Bismarck and claim their second straight WDA title.

“I thought it was an excellent effort on our part,” MHS head coach Matt Pfau said. “We just had good connections offensively, and Lainey (Sandberg) was great…Winning a championship was very important for us, and this is our second now, so that’s really awesome.”

Now with a 1-0 lead, Minot’s defense protected the slim advantage at all costs.

The early goal lit a fire underneath the Demons’ offense as they repeatedly tried to deliver the equalizer. The first promising look came in the closing seconds of the opening half, as Bismarck’s Ellengton Hill got just outside the box and pulled the trigger.

There for the stop was the duo of Zoe Weishaar and Emily Thiele, who sacrificed their bodies without hesitation and blocked the shot to send Minot into halftime with a 1-0 edge.

Despite being on top, the Majettes held back on the celebrations. They knew a storm was coming in the second half from a now desperate Demons team, and they had no intentions of folding.

Just a few minutes before the start of the second half, assistant coach Creighton Bachmeier delivered the motivational speech.

“We’re the defending champions of this thing,” Bachmeier yelled to his troops. “They’re going to have to rip it out of our hands, and that’s not going to happen tonight.”

Sure enough, the Demons tried to do just that in the second half. Only 30 seconds ticked off the clock when Bismarck raced downfield and was rewarded with a corner kick.

Hill kicked the ball toward the box and found teammate Rayni Vorachek, who sent a header in the direction of Minot goalie Emelea Miller. The freshman quickly reacted and swallowed up the shot to preserve the 1-0 lead.

Two minutes later, Hill and the Demons were knocking on the door again. This time the junior took it upon herself as she sent a laser of a shot toward the net from outside the box. Once again, Miller made the snag.

After yet another Bismarck shot on goal, this time from Mikayla Zeis, Sandberg finally jumpstarted the Majettes’ offense once more.

With 30 minutes remaining, the sophomore found herself in the perfect position when a deflected ball rolled to her feet. Sandberg cashed in with a shot that eluded the outstretched hands of Bismarck’s goalie to push the lead to 2-0.

“I was just right there to tap it in,” Sandberg said. “I couldn’t believe it happened…We were just working hard all game, and we had the finishes tonight.”

The Demons never recovered. With Minot’s bench already on its feet, the final seconds of the match ticked away, and the group flooded the field in celebration of its second straight West Region title.

Minot finished with 15 shots on goal to Bismarck’s seven in the shutout win. Miller made seven saves.

“We just gutted it out on the defensive end,” Pfau said. “We’ve talked about how we would defend (Bismarck) these past few days, and all 22 of them bought in.”

With the victory, Minot enters the state tournament as the No. 1 seed from the West Region. The Majettes’ journey to their first ever state title begins next Thursday in Jamestown.

“We really wanted this (WDA title),” Sandberg said. “This has been our goal all season. Now we’re trying to take it to the next level at state.”

Justin Martinez covers Minot High School and Class B high school athletics. Follow him on Twitter @JTheSportsDude.