GIRLS SOCCER: Red River prepares for state tournament
Payton Salquist is thankful for second chances. Salquist and her Grand Forks Red River High School soccer teammates are preparing for the North Dakota girls state tournament, which begins Thursday in Fargo. And they're going only because of a cha...
Payton Salquist is thankful for second chances.
Salquist and her Grand Forks Red River High School soccer teammates are preparing for the North Dakota girls state tournament, which begins Thursday in Fargo. And they're going only because of a change in the format for qualifying.
Previously, the top four teams in the East Region advanced to state based on regular-season standings. Red River finished sixth. But the region went to a postseason qualifying tournament for the first time and Red River went 2-1 in the regional to advance as the No. 4 seed.
"That was huge,'' Salquist said. "If we didn't have a region tournament, we wouldn't be going to state. I think we realized (the opportunity) and it pushed us to play harder.''
The Roughriders take a 4-6 record to state. Success has come with a stingy defense anchored by goaltender Nikki LaDouceur. With the senior getting the bulk of the playing time in goal, Red River has allowed a total of only 14 goals.
Red River gave up four goals in a loss to Fargo Davies and three in a loss to Fargo North; otherwise, no opponent has scored more than two goals in a game.
"We've relied heavily on our defense,'' Riders coach Jessica Krog said. "LaDouceur is a veteran goaltender who has made big saves. That's comforting for a team. Mandi Egeland and Jamie O'Halloran have been shutdown defenders, and we have some other younger girls who were question marks at the beginning of the season who have played well. And our midfielders are strong on defense, too.
"We've been in almost every game. But we've hit a lot of pipes. We felt that if we started getting some bounces, we could contender in the region tournament. And things fell our way.''
The Riders have had to rely on the defense because the offense has produced only 25 goals. The bulk of the scoring has come from Ashley Rone (4 goals-3 assists), Salquist (5-3) and all-conference sophomore Jessica Dallman (10-4). Rone missed the regional because she was participating in the state track meet.
"I think that will be a key, having her back,'' Krog said. "She's another weapon who can score. Dallman and Salquist are great players. With our defense, we feel we only need a few goals to be right with teams.''
To reach state, however, Red River got more contributors.
In a loser-out, state-qualifier game, Red River rallied from a 3-1 deficit in a shootout to tie West Fargo 3-3 on goals by Lauren Hagen and Paige Goodman. Then, in sudden death, it was Egeland with the game winner.
"Winning that shootout, I think that motivates us now,'' Salquist said. "Shootouts don't happen that often. And we were down to a sixth shooter. That's a crazy way to get to state.''
Krog hopes the shootout is something the Riders can build on going to state.
"We see the abilities of kids like Paige in practice,'' Krog said. "To get big goals like that, maybe that could give them the confidence to take more shots from the outside. We do need more balance.''
For the defense-oriented Riders, the shootout was a little offensive momentum heading into the state tournament.
DeVillers reports on sports. Call him at (701) 780-1128; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1128; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org .