Grand Forks Red River looks forward to rematch with Century at state soccer tournament
Riders take No. 2 seed from the East into this weekend's state tournament.
On the heels of a 9-2-3 record and runner-up finish in the Eastern Dakota Conference during the regular season, Grand Forks Red River now heads into the state tournament to take on reigning champion Bismarck Century in the first round.
It’s the Riders' best overall record since the 2016 season when they captured the No. 4 seed. They would not qualify for the next three years. Now they have the No. 2 seed in the East and have momentum.
“It’s a pretty remarkable feat. There were several times, in the back of our heads we want to be a state championship team, but we also have to enjoy the process along the way of being one of the best teams Red River has ever put forward,” Red River head coach Luke Glasoe said.
The main power behind the Roughriders' success this year has been Gannon Brooks. The senior has potted 15 goals and added eight assists all while routinely playing a full 80 minutes a night.
Behind him, though, remains a strong cast that has pushed harder when Brooks becomes the attraction of double, sometimes triple, teams. Junior Lukas Heydt scored six on the year, senior Trevor Olderbak shared three of his own, while defenders Ethan Dockter and Gabriel Birchler have provided a solid line of support in front of keeper Brady Price.
Adding effective ball movers like Amit Rasaily and Ahmed Hassan on top of that and there is a danger up and down the Red River roster.
“The best thing we have going for us is our depth. The 22 guys we’ll be taking this weekend, they’ll all have different skill sets,” Glasoe said. “To have a bench as deep as we have, it doesn’t matter who we go against we’re going to have somebody in our varsity program that we can put out there that’s going to match up really nicely with who we’re going up against.”
However, WDA power Century, 8-3-2 in conference play, has its share of firepower to deal with.
Brooks Turner matched Brooks’ goal total this season with 15, but not far behind him was Anthony Cleary with 12. Cleary also added 11 assists, while Chance Bowlinger had four goals and 13 assists.
Needless to say, the Patriots are confident in their depth as well.
The Roughriders have been a sound defensive team this year, though. They have limited the opposition on numerous occasions, including two of the best teams in the state in Minot and Fargo Davies.
“We haven’t conceded very many goals this year, so I feel pretty confident in both our goalkeeping and our defenders. We can withstand some tough offenses. Minot came here earlier this year, we only gave up three to them and they’re the best in the West. Davies, being the best in the East, three is about as many as they can score on us,” Glasoe said.
The two squads should be quite familiar with each other, seeing as how they faced off in the first round of the last state tournament as well. Red River’s 2-0 lead quickly vanished in the final eight minutes and the Patriots would go on to advance via the overtime shootout.
It was tough for Glasoe and the Roughriders to bounce back from that, but they managed to put together a solid season and now the hope is to seek revenge. Glasoe, though, still wants his group to truly appreciate what it has accomplished this year, nonetheless.
“Kids don’t forget these moments. I’m hoping these kids will savor their moments while they are there,” he said.
Century and Red River begin their state quarterfinal match Thursday at 2:15 p.m.