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BOYS SOCCER: Riders top Grand Forks Central 4-2

Grand Forks Red River's Branden Axtman (7) slips between Central's Elias Ghribi (left) and Trigg Camrud (16) as they chase a loose ball Tuesday night in the first half.JOHN STENNES/GRAND FORKS HERALD1 / 3
Grand Forks Red River's goalie Jayce Turner leaps in front of Grand Forks Central's Greg Olsen (17) and Hartick Tarr (10) to make a save in the first half.JOHN STENNES/GAND FORKS HERALD2 / 3
Grand Forks Red River's Branden Axtman (7) passes the ball up field past Grand Forks Central defenseman Cole Krichoffner in the first half3 / 3

After being shut out all season, Elias Ghribi didn't have high expectations Tuesday.

"I would have been satisfied with one goal,'' the Grand Forks Red River High School boys soccer player said.

Ghribi did a lot better than that. The senior midfielder's hat trick sparked the Roughriders to a 4-2 win against Grand Forks Central at Cushman Field.

They were the first goals of the season for Ghribi. Sophomore Ben Schleicher scored the other goal for the Riders, also his first of the season.

For Ghribi, becoming more offensive was due in part to a shift in roles for the low-scoring Riders, who matched their season high for goals in a game in the win.

"We didn't play Elias back so much on defense tonight,'' Red River coach Luke Glasoe said. "He's a good defensive player. But we moved him up to get him more into the offense. We needed goals. Elias scores a lot in practice. He's offensive-minded.''

Ghribi got the scoring going when he put a header into an open net from close range just 5:02 into the game. After Schleicher scored, Ghribi converted on a corner kick for a 3-0 edge 13:59 into the game.

"I put myself in the box more,'' Ghribi said. "I was attacking more. We were all pushing it more.''

Central got within 3-2 before halftime. Zach Walz scored on a free kick, then Hartrick Tarr scored on a close-range header off a long inbounds pass from Jayden Kramer.

"We did well to come back from three goals down early,'' Central coach George DuBois said. "It took us way too long to flip the switch on. But I thought we'd be OK if we got back to 3-2 at halftime.

"The second half was even until Elias got his third. That was a back breaker.''

Ghribi scored again from close range off a turnover to make it 4-2 with 22:37 remaining.

The win improved Red River to 4-9-4 overall and 3-0-1 when the Riders get the first goal in a game.

"It would be nice if we could score early more,'' Glasoe said. "But we've struggled scoring.

"We need to win out to have a shot at getting to state. We asked our back line to pick it up, allowing the midfielders to play more offense. It was a gamble we had to take.''

Caleb Dachtler had eight saves in goal for the 5-8-3 Knights, including a spectacular diving stop to his left on a penalty kick early in the game. Jayce Turner had 14 saves for Red River.