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Chris Murphy, Published September 17 2013

Moorhead boys soccer shuts out Fargo Shanley

MOORHEAD – The weather Tuesday at Horizon Middle School was fitting for Moorhead’s boys soccer team.

The winds went fiercely in different directions, just as the Spuds had gone from winning their first six to going 0-2-1 in their last three. There were rain clouds not only over the pitch Tuesday, but floating over the Spuds season.

Then, the Spuds found some sunshine and shut out arguably the best team in North Dakota – Fargo Shanley – 2-0.

“We needed this game, and we knew that we needed it,” Moorhead coach Lance Hansen said. “It could be a good springboard for us for the rest of the season. The guys executed well.”

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. Although impossible, the first half made it seem like both teams would win the match. There were 14 shots from both teams, half of which required saves, and the ball never remained in either end for very long. Neither team gave up an inch until 7 minutes, 29 seconds were left in the half.

Shanley (10-2-1) keeper Parker Simonson wound up and blasted a through ball, only it walloped the back of a Deacons defender and trickled back toward the net. That’s where Moorhead’s Brandon Nguyen tapped it into the open net to put the Spuds up 1-0.

“My mind was just blank, and I just thought about getting it into the net,” Nguyen said. “It feels really great beating a really good team. Our defense played spectacular.”

With the skid Moorhead (7-2-1) was on, Hansen was more than happy to take what he could get.

“It was ugly, but those goals count too,” Hansen said. “It was a gritty effort. We have some gritty players that come off the bench, and they make things happen just like that.”

Moorhead keeper Alex Schmidt came up with five saves in the shutout, none bigger than his stop less than 10 minutes into the second half. Shanley’s Conrad Hager curved a ball toward the right corner of the net from just outside the box that seemed destined to tie the game. A horizontal Schmidt got a fingertip on it, it hit against the right post and ricocheted back toward the left post, but Spuds defender Ethan Olson was there to clear it.

It resembled the Spuds defense that had given up two goals in their first six matches, rather than the one that allowed six goals in their last three.

“Conrad has a hard shot, so I figured he might push it to the right side,” Schmidt said. “I got a hand on it. We’ve been talking about how we’ve been giving up a lot of goals and a lot of runs. Fortunately, we figured it out today against a good team today.”

Justin Froslie’s blast right outside the box came 11 minutes after Schmidt’s save to put Moorhead up 2-0 and completely take momentum away from Shanley.

Tuesday marked a month since Shanley had lost its only match of the season, but the Spuds ended the Deacons’ 8-0-1 streak in that time.

“We don’t take many positives from this,” Shanley coach Michael Breker said. “We lost and we got an injured player, so it’s a worst-case scenario for us. It’s a learning experience. I thought the first few minutes of the second half we did the things we talked about, but then we faded away.”

FIRST HALF: M, Nguyen, 32:31.

SECOND HALF: M, Froslie, 19:45.

SAVES: M, Schmidt 5. F, Simonson 7.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548