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Chris Aarhus / Forum News Service, Published October 11 2013

Bismarck tops West Fargo in ND state boys soccer semifinals

JAMESTOWN, N.D. – West Fargo struggled to stop speedy Hunter Johnson on Friday night, despite heavy rain.

The Bismarck standout showed why he entered as the state’s top goal scorer, netting a pair in the Demons’ 3-1 victory that advanced them to the championship game at the North Dakota state boys soccer tournament at Rotary Field.

Bismarck will be playing for the program’s third title at 3 p.m. today.

“It’s amazing with the feelings and intensity ... to have the nervousness kick in and everything,” Johnson said of the match. “I knew we’d have a decent team, but we lost quite a few seniors.”

Just a sophomore, Johnson had two goals in the Demons’ 3-2 win over Fargo South on Thursday, and with two more against the Packers, he’s up to 29 goals this season.

“I just get good balls from the midfield,” Johnson said.

Said West Fargo coach James Moe of Johnson: “He’s a great player ... a fantastic kid who works his butt off. He deserved it. He worked hard.”

Both of his goals were scored in similar fashion, as West Fargo goalkeeper Nathan Sample came out to stop Johnson before he could make an attempt. However, Johnson managed to get past him both times, easily finding the back of the net.

“He’s a big keeper,” Johnson said of Sample. “When I saw him, I knew I had to shoot low and to the right.”

Johnson’s first score came midway through the first half. His second changed the complexion of the game, putting even more pressure on the Packers.

“We knew 1-0 we could come back and 2-0 we could come back, but that (second goal) made it a little tougher,” Moe said. “Our guys fought hard, but we kind of got a little frantic with it.”

Though the match was decided by two goals, it didn’t feel that way, Moe said.

“The scoreboard is what it is, but I thought we played better,” he said. “We just didn’t have the goals to show for it. We had a couple of mistakes and it cost us.”

The Packers’ lone goal came from senior Zuheer Al-Abase with less than nine minutes to play and his team trailing 3-0.

The No. 2 seed out of the East Region, West Fargo plays for third place at 1 p.m.

“We lost to the No. 1 seed from the West (Region),” Moe said. “No shame in that. We’ve got to come back and be ready.”

FIRST HALF: 1, B, Johnson (unassisted), 24:43.

SECOND HALF: 2, B, Johnson 57:34. 3, B, Olson 65:37. 4, WF, Al-Abase 71:42.

SAVES: WF, Sample 3-0–3. B, Matzke 3-2–5.

Aarhus writes for The Jamestown Sun