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Tom Mix, Published September 11 2013

Hager a determined goal scorer for Deacons

Fargo - Fargo Shanley senior forward Conrad Hager doesn’t exactly sneak up on teams in the Eastern Dakota Conference.

He hasn’t for some time, but the fact that he’s on the radar of every boys soccer team in North Dakota hasn’t prevented Hager from remaining highly active in the Deacons’ offense.

“He is a marked man in the EDC,” Fargo Shanley head coach Michael Breker said of his returning all-state first-team player. “Every match, teams are game-planning against him.”

Hager, 17, plays soccer year-round and is never too far away from a soccer ball.

“At home, I always have a ball near me about 90 percent of the time,” Hager said. “I’m always kicking it at something.”

Hager comes from a soccer family and is always able to discuss the sport with his father, Allen, and brother Cam, who graduated from Shanley in 2012.

In the offseason, he participated in the Minnesota Thunder Academy (MTA). Following the high school season, Hager – one of 18 players on the Midwest Region II 1996 squad – will compete in the Olympic Development Program (ODP) interregional tournament in Philadelphia.

Despite teams trying to squeeze him out of the Shanley offense, Hager has put in plenty of kicks this fall.

Through nine matches, Hager has posted 13 goals and six assists.

“It’s been difficult, but I’m not the only one on the team that can score, either,” Hager said of teams paying close attention to him. “I’ve slid back and played more midfield and tried to play balls up top to Danny (Bruckbauer) or whoever happens to be open.”

Hager, who shoots with his right foot, collected 24 goals and nine assists as a junior, helping the Deacons to an appearance in the state championship match.

He posted a hat trick in the Deacons’ quarterfinal victory over Bismarck St. Mary’s. One of his three goals came off a kick from 40 yards out.

Breker said the booming goals from long distances get noticed more, but also noted Hager’s ability to close from short distances on breakaway opportunities.

“(Conrad) can finish no matter where he is on the field,” Breker said. “He buries shots.”

When asked which type of goal he enjoys scoring the most long distance or breakaway, Hager’s response was, “I love both.”

The Deacons (8-1-0) sit atop the EDC standings with a 7-0-0 conference mark. Shanley hasn’t lost a regular-season EDC match since Oct. 4, 2011.

“We don’t think much about our record,” Hager said. “Everyone on the team plays as hard as they can no matter what our record is. The younger guys on the team have stepped up, and it’s been extremely fun out there this season.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562