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Tom Miller / Forum Communications Co., Published June 02 2012

Fargo Shanley wins state soccer title

GRAND FORKS – After two blowout wins to start the North Dakota state girls high school soccer tournament, Fargo Shanley faced adversity for the first time in the championship against Bismarck St. Mary’s.

Still, it wasn’t enough to derail the Deacons’ unbeaten season.

Shanley received shootout goals from Anna Reinholz and Hannah Saville as the Deacons beat the Saints for the program’s first state championship Saturday at Cushman Field.

The teams played to a 2-2 tie through regulation and two overtimes.

“It’s special to have an undefeated season, but a state championship is the best feeling in the world,” said Shanley forward Haley Greving, who was named the state’s outstanding senior athlete.

The Deacons, who finished the year 19-0-1, reached the peak as a program after not qualifying for the state tournament until 2006. Since, Shanley has finished in fifth place or better each of the past six years.

Last season, the Deacons lost to Bismarck Century in a shootout in the state championship. So when Shanley went to a shootout against St. Mary’s, it triggered déjà vu with a few of the Deacons.

“It was definitely an intense moment that brought back some memories,” Greving said.

But the Saints’ first three kickers in the shootout missed the net and when Shanley keeper Elizabeth Bitzan made a save on the fourth attempt, it sealed the Deacons’ win.

“We didn’t want to go to penalty kicks, but it was fun to see us react well to it and stay composed,” said Shanley coach Kevin Roos, who has been with the Deacons for the last nine years. “It was good to end on the good side of it this time.”

The way the first half unfolded, it was a surprise the match even went to a shootout. The Deacons scored in the second minute on a Nicole Freeberg goal and made it 2-0 on a goal by Reinholz in the 25th minute.

At that point, it appeared the Deacons were on their way to another easy win. Shanley had beaten its first two opponents at the state tournament by a combined score of 10-1.

But the Saints clawed back. First, Sydney Miller scored on a penalty kick after a Deacons player was called for a handball in the opening five minutes of the second half.

Then, St. Mary’s tied the score at 2 on another goal from Miller. This time, the junior sniped the top corner of the net with 14:27 left in the second half.

The game went to overtime despite Shanley controlling most of the play. Deacons goalie Elizabeth Bitzan finished with seven saves, while Rachel Power had 30 saves for St. Mary’s.

“We were a little surprised by St. Mary’s in the second half, but we came back and got possession and pulled it out in the end,” Bitzan said.

Winning in a shootout, the Deacons felt a sense of redemption from last season’s disappointing finish.

“We wanted to win so bad because, with last year, we know what it’s like to lose a shootout,” Reinholz said. “Shootouts are always scary because you don’t know what’s going to happen. We just tried to stay calm and collected.”

FIRST HALF: 1, S, Freeberg, 1:25. 2, S, Reinholz (Jacobson), 25:31.

SECOND HALF: 3, SM, Miller, 44:12. 4, SM, Miller (Puetz), 65:43.

SHOOTOUT: S, Saville, Reinholz.

SAVES: S, Bitzan 7. SM, Power 30.

All-tournament team

Bismarck: Andrea Ferguson.

Bismarck Century: Lily Obregewitch; Tara Welch.

Fargo Davies: Paige McCullough; Kenzie Carlson; Emily Wendorff.

Fargo North: Alyssa Gross; Bobbi Simmer.

Minot: Bailey Bachman-Williams; Emily Christenson; Krystal Funke.

Red River: Mikelle Fetsch.

Fifth place: Fargo Davies 2,

Fargo North 1 (OT)

FIRST HALF: 1, FD, McCullough, 38:10.

SECOND HALF: 2, FN, Simmer, 19:50.

OVERTIME: 3, FD, Carlson, 4:56.

SAVES: FD, Orson 8. FN, Schmiess 14.

Third place: Bismarck Century 2, Minot 0

FIRST HALF: 1, BC, Dollinger, 6:17. 2, BC, Schatz, 5:17.

SECOND HALF: No scoring.

SAVES: M, Sandvold 7. BC, Leintz 7.

Miller writes for the Grand Forks Herald