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Published October 13 2010

ND state boys soccer: Fargo North rallies around an old cliche

You know that old sports cliché about taking it one game at a time? Fargo North boys soccer coach Jon Melendez made that tired saying the theme of the Spartans’ season.

And it actually worked.

“We decided at the beginning of the season to take it one game at a time,” said Melendez, whose team will play Minot at 3 p.m. Thursday in the first round of the North Dakota state boys soccer tournament in Grand Forks. “We decided that was the most important game at the time. At then end, we would count the points and see if we went to state or not.”

Narrowing the Spartans’ focus helped keep the team on an even-keel throughout the season, Melendez said.

They never got too high or too low as they made their way through the schedule.

North (10-4-4) never lost back-to-back games, and locked up the No. 2 seed at state with a win against rival Fargo South on Oct. 5.

Defense has been the key.

The Spartans allowed seven goals in EDC competition this season.

“A lot of teams come in our end and people think we are defending,” Melendez said. “But we are just waiting for them to give us the ball back so we can attack.”

The Spartans’ offense has been led by senior Trevor Braeger. Braeger scored a school-record five goals in an 8-1 win against Fargo Davies after telling coaches he thought he could reach the milestone during pregame warmups.

Senior Sunnyboy Nyanfor has also emerged as a potent scoring threat.

Melendez said he knows little about his team’s first-round opponent.

The teams did not play during the regular season.

However, Melendez does have experience with squaring up against Minot High School in a postseason setting. He coached the No. 4 seeded West Fargo girls to a shootout win against Minot in last year’s girls soccer title game.

“I expect a hard-fought game all the way to the end,” he said. “I know they are going to be a tough team to beat. They will be physical.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Heath Hotzler at (701) 241-5562.

Hotzler’s blogs can be found at www.areavoices.com