William Lawson-Body anticipated that Grand Forks Central’s hot scoring pace at the start of the boys high school soccer season would be difficult to maintain.
The Knights opened with six straight wins. Central scored three or more goals in each of those victories, averaging 3.7 goals a game in that span.
“We knew it would get harder to score,’’ Lawson-Body said. “Every team’s defense tightens up during the season.’’
Lawson-Body was correct. Central scored as many as three goals only twice in its final 10 regular-season games, going 3-6-1 in that span. But Central played well enough to earn the No. 4 seed from the East Region in the North Dakota boys soccer state high school tournament.
Central (9-6-1) plays West Region No. 1 seed Bismarck High at noon Thursday in the quarterfinal round of the state tournament in Mandan.
Central coach Luke Schulz said part of Central’s early-season offensive outburst was the schedule.
“Early in the year, we had some of the softer parts of our schedule,’’ Schulz said. “Goals got tougher to come by as we got into the season with a tougher schedule and more road games.
“I don’t know if I expected us to keep up that (early-season scoring) pace. But there were a few games where I thought we could have scored more. Thats a big area of focus -- when we have scoring chances we have to finish them. That’s something we were strong at in the beginning of the year.’’
Lawson-Body and Jackson Macho have been a strong one-two scoring punch.
They each have identical numbers of 12 goals and six assists to pace the offense. They’ve combined to score 24 of the team’s 33 goals.
“You want that responsibility (to be a scorer) as a leader on the team,’’ Lawson-Body said. “We’ve embraced that. But we’re not against other guys scoring.
“And every goal is a team goal. It starts with the defense. It’s working the ball up. We’ve just been the lucky ones to be able to finish things off.’’
Schulz said he considers both Lawson-Body and Macho to be all-state caliber players.
“It makes you feel good to have two dependable players like that,’’ Schulz said. “They both have a knack for putting it in the goal.’’
Central also has shown a knack for denying opponents scoring opportunities.
Only three times has an opponent scored more than two goals in a game against Central. In 16 games, Central has surrendered 25 goals.
Goaltender Will Howard has a 1.43 goals-against average and an .847 save percentage.
Anchoring the defense in front of the senior are Colten Mitchell, Peter Loyland and James Weber.
“Will’s been really solid,’’ Schulz said. “He’s kept us in a lot of games with a lot of big saves. He’s actually played better in the second half of the season.
“When we play as well as we can on defense, we only need one or two goals to do well.’’
Central soccer at a glance
Record: 9-6-1, East Region No. 4 seed.
State tournament opener: Central plays Bismarck High in the quarterfinal round at noon Thursday in Mandan.
Central leading scorers: Sr. William Lawson-Body (12 goals-6 assists), jr. Jackson Macho (12-6), sr. Gavin Fielder (2-2), jr. Nick Veres (1-3), jr. Joey Kennelly (2-0), sr. Luke Barbeau (1-1).
In goal: Sr. Will Howard (1.43 goals-against avg., .847 save percentage).