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Published October 06 2010

Boys soccer: Spartans hold off Bruins for victory

After several years of dominance in the Eastern Dakota Conference, the Fargo South boys soccer team is in danger of missing out on the North Dakota state tournament for the first time in 15 years.

Fargo North assured its place at state and dealt rival South’s chances of a postseason bid a severe blow with a 2-1 victory against the Bruins on Tuesday night at South athletic field.

“They have a great team and we battled all the way until the end,” North coach Jon Melendez said of the Bruins. “I knew it was going to be a close game. This year the whole conference is within one point of each other. One day you are at the top, the next you are at the bottom.”

The Bruins, who have not missed state since the tournament began in 1995, have struggled just a year after earning the state title.

South (6-8-3, 4-4-3) has three wins in its last 12 games. Now, the team that has won a record six state titles is on the brink of missing out on the postseason for the first time since the tournament began in 1995. It all comes down to Friday.

The surest way for South to earn the fourth and final spot from the East for state, would be a win against West Fargo and a loss by Grand Forks Red River against Fargo Davies.

If South wins and Red River wins, the Bruins could still get in depending on tiebreakers.

The Roughriders took over the No. 4 seed Tuesday with a 4-1 win against rival Grand Forks Central.

“I told them nothing is over until it’s over,” South coach Dean Hashbarger said. “We just have to go out on Friday and be ready to go. They are not in the mood right now to listen to a lot of stuff. But I told them how proud I was of them, because we played very well in the second half.”

North (9-4-4, 7-3-1) took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Sunnyboy Nyanfor in the 9th minute. The Spartans went ahead 2-0 in the 40th minute on a free kick about 55 yards out by senior midfielder Hunter Row.

South’s Gabriel Deng made the score 2-1 when he crushed a ball into the net after it bounced off Spartans keeper Josh Nistler’s hands.

“I’ve got to give it to coach Hashbarger,” said Melendez, whose team advances to state for the first time in his two years as head coach. “This is the rivalry we always see. I call it a classic game, because you never know who is going to win. It’s just heart and preparation.”

FIRST HALF: 1, FN, Nyanfor (Diaz), 9th minute. 2, FN, Row (unassisted), 40th.

SECOND HALF: 3, FS, Deng (unassisted), 75th.

SAVES: FN, Nistler 4. FS, Bergseth 0.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Heath Hotzler at (701) 241-5562. Hotzler’s blogs can be found at www.areavoices.com