Minot High outlasts Legacy in 1-0 thriller for WDA regular season title
Culminating in a West Region finale crafted from a soccer lover’s wildest dreams, even Hollywood couldn’t have scripted a better way to decide the WDA regular season champion than to have No. 2 Minot High welcome No. 1 Legacy to Duane Carlson Stadium on Thursday night for a winner-takes-all clash on the pitch.
Having secured a state tournament berth and looking to hold on to their WDA boys’ soccer crown, co-head coaches Jordan Foley and Chad Oswalt have skippered the reigning West Region champion Minot High Magicians (12-2-1 overall, 10-2-1 West Region) to a chance to lock up back-to-back regular season titles.
A flourishing Magi offense has centered around junior midfielder and WDA points leader Brayden Oswalt, while senior forward Manasseh Boakye has served as a rock-steady source of scoring for Minot High throughout the entirety of the season.
Also producing reliably throughout the 2022-2023 schedule has been Magi senior goalie J.J. Dufner. Perched among the top net keepers in the West Region in all statistical categories, Dufner and the Minot High back-line defenders have been virtually impenetrable this season and a key component in the Magi’s current six-game winning streak.
On a winning streak of their own, the Legacy Sabers (12-2-0 overall, 11-2-0 West Region) came into Thursday night hunting for their first WDA regular season title in program history after putting together 7-straight wins, beginning with their 1-0 home victory over Minot High on Sept. 1.
Like the Magi, Legacy has already claimed an automatic bid to the state tournament thanks to their spot atop the WDA standings heading into Thursday night.
Offensively, the Sabers have launched an absolute blitzkrieg against their unfortunate opponents during their latest winning stretch.
Other than their win against Minot High to start the streak, Legacy has scored at least three goals in every game, in addition to seven goals against both Williston and Dickinson and six against Century.
All-in-all, the Sabers boast a staggering 32-3 GF-GA margin entering the contest with Minot High for the title.
Back in the lineup for the Magi after serving a one-game suspension for a red card booking against Mandan was Oswalt, rested and hoping to put an exclamation mark on what has been a stellar season for the 2021 All-WDA Boys’ Soccer Team honoree.
In a change of pace for Minot High, they would start the first 20 minutes of the opening half fending off an aggressive Sabers attack.
Whether welcomed or not, Magi’s goalkeeper Dufner would get to showcase his skills early and often, as he and Minot High defenders Dylan Helde and Nickolas Hynson stayed busy keeping Legacy at bay.
In a reversal of fortunes, the Magi and Sabers would effectively switch roles, with Minot High catching a burst of offensive initiative to dominate the last 20 minutes of the first half.
Racking up six corner kicks before halftime, the Magi would put Sabers junior goalkeeper Nathaniel Olheiser and the Sabers defense to the test on a number of credible shots leading up to a 0-0 tie at halftime.
As the teams came out for the final 40 minutes of play, a cold, steady rain would add another layer of intrigue as the Sabers and Magicians battled to break the scoreless deadlock.
The physical play on the field would ratchet up to a fever pitch, as both squads refused to give up an ounce of leverage.
Field control remained balanced between the two teams, but the 52nd minute of play would see the defining moment of the championship battle.
A handball in the Sabers’ penalty box would give the Magi the opportunity they needed to score the deciding goal of the contest via penalty kick.
With the lights and the eyes of fans focused on Oswalt, he would show why he leads the WDA in goals this season by tucking a stiff blast into the side of the net and outside of the reach of Olheiser to post what would be the conclusive score of the contest.
Despite a relentless effort by Legacy to mount a comeback, the Minot High defense would prove too much to overcome as they would hold off the Sabers to solidify the win.
Claiming back-to-back WDA regular season titles with the 1-0 victory, Minot High will once again face-off against Legacy next Saturday, this time to crown the WDA Tournament champion.