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Chris Aarhus / Forum News Serivce, Published October 10 2013

West Fargo tops Bismarck St. Mary's in ND state boys soccer quarterfinals

By Chris Aarhus

Forum News Service

JAMESTOWN, N.D. –Zuheer Al-Abase admitted to being nervous when Bismarck St. Mary’s scored first during Thursday’s quarterfinal game of the North Dakota boys state soccer tournament.

The West Fargo senior has big plans this weekend.

“I was nervous because this is my last year playing at state,” he said. “But I wasn’t disappointed at all. … I know what we’re capable of.”

Al-Abase responded with a goal and assisted on another in the Packers’ 3-1 victory at Rotary Field. West Fargo, the East Region’s No. 2 seed, plays West Region champion Bismarck High at 5 p.m. today in the state semifinals.

A three-year veteran of the state tournament, Al-Abase helped the Packers take control after St. Mary’s dominated the first 10 minutes. Ben Weisbeck scored an unassisted goal after West Fargo keeper Thomas Schroeder wasn’t able to hang on to the ball, allowing Weisback to sneak around him and score.

“Our guys were nervous … (St. Mary’s) whole team has been in state the last three, four years,” Al-Abase said. “There’s only three players on our team that have state experience.”

Al-Base made sure the Packers (13-4-2) earned a second straight trip to the semifinals. He took a pass from a free kick, drilled it over traffic and past St. Mary’s keeper Jordan Smith from just outside the center circle to tie the match.

“We know he’s capable of taking long-range shots and putting a bend on them,” West Fargo coach James Moe said. “When that one went in, obviously, it was exciting.”

But Al-Abase wasn’t done, finding Ben Prochniak open on the back post with 14 minutes remaining in the first half. Prochniak easily scored on the play. Abdi Gedi added an insurance goal in the second half with Akeem Smith assisting on the play.

Schroeder finished with 10 saves in the win, shutting out the Saints the final 75 minutes.

St. Mary’s coach Peter Manstrom said his team struggled to sustain its early success.

“We’re always looking to come out strong right away to make a first impression, and we hoped to carry that through to at least the first 20 minutes,” he said. “Once they turned it on us, it was almost like we went flat. We lost all of our composure.”

St. Mary’s had a scary moment in the second half, when keeper Jordan Smith had his legs taken out from under him and landed on the upper back-neck area. He appeared unconscious and had to be helped off the field. He was later put on a stretcher and taken in an ambulance. Manstrom said it appeared to be a neck injury, but didn’t have any more details.

FIRST HALF: 1, SM, Weisbeck (unassisted), 4:41. 2, WF, Al Abase (unassisted), 14:15. 3, WF, Prochniak (Al Abase), 25:99.

SECOND HALF: 4, WF, Gedi (Akeem Smith), 58:01.

SAVES: SM, Smith 8-2–10, Kopp x-4–4. WF, Schroeder 4-6–10.

Chris Aarhus is a reporter for the Jamestown (N.D.) Sun