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Tom Mix, Published October 12 2012

Bismarck Century tops West Fargo in state boys soccer semifinals

FARGO – The Bismarck Century boys soccer team has a simple strategy.

The Patriots first strive to build an early lead, and then sustain it. They do so by playing stingy defense and dominating possession.

That strategy served Century well in the regular season and helped it to a 1-0 win over West Fargo in the semifinals of the North Dakota state tournament on Friday at Sid Cichy Stadium.

Century (14-3-1) advances to its fourth straight title game and plays Fargo Shanley at 3 p.m. today. The Patriots defeated Bismarck in last season’s state championship game.

“We knew it was going to be a battle,” said Century senior forward Alec Rauhauser who scored the lone goal of the match. “It is huge for us to get back into the state championship game and try to defend our title from last year.”

Rauhauser put a shot past West Fargo junior goalkeeper Nathan Sample in 24th minute. Senior midfielder Brandon Eckroth got the assist on Rauhauser’s goal, which sparked several ensuing scoring chances for the Patriots.

This time, Sample – who finished with eight saves – didn’t allow any to get by him.

“It was huge to break through on that one,” Century head coach Nate Ulness said of Rauhauser’s goal. “Then their keeper makes a brilliant save and holds Alec from three yards away five minutes later. It was a great save. I wish we could have gotten that second one just to ease the nerves a little bit.”

Instead, Century continued to carry out its strategy by controlling the ball.

West Fargo (14-4-2) plays Fargo South at 1 p.m. today in the third-place match.

“They dominated possession,” West Fargo head coach Doug Millar said. “In a close game like this one, the team that possesses the ball the most is likely going to win.”

The Packers had several scoring chances in the second half with the wind at their backs, but the Century defenders kept West Fargo’s time in its zone minimal.

“Nate (Ulness) preaches that we have to keep the ball if we are up one,” Rauhauser said. “We have been up a lot this year. We know how to keep moving and wear down the time.”

Ulness credited the performance of senior defender Mason Kleinjan.

“He single-handedly shut down their entire left flank,” Ulness said. “Defensively I thought we were solid. We got our goal and then kept control of the match.”

FIRST HALF: 1, BC, Rauhauser, (Eckroth), 24:25.

SECOND HALF: No scoring.

SAVES: WF, Sample 8. BC, Buchholz 7.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562