The Packer girls' soccer team may sit in the bottom half of the EDC with only one conference win in four tries, but the players and coach are more than optimistic.
They think last week's 3-0 shutout of Grand Forks Central is just what was needed to turn things around this year.
"It definitely gave us a lot of confidence, just getting that first (conference) win and knowing that we can do it," said senior goalkeeper Nicole Brokmeier, who has helped keep her team close in most games this season.
She headlines a defense that has given up only 10 goals in nine games this season for the Packers, 3-4-1 overall.
Just like last season, the problem this year is on offense. The Packers had scored 10 goals this year at press time, the same as they have given up, but they've scored one goal or less in five separate games.
"We've had a rough time scoring," said sophomore midfielder Kelsey Kloos. "We've had all these opportunities to get the ball in the net, but we really haven't been able to finish those shots."
Kloos said the three goals in the win over the Knights last Thursday could go further than just that one game.
"Now that we're getting a feel of how to score, I think it's going to be a turning point for our team," she said. "We're just trying to progress everyday (in practice). We're working on specific ways to switch fields and basic things like that."
"We need to work on finishing," said co-head coach Jon Melendez. "We haven't been able to execute in the last quarter of the field. We just haven't gotten a break."
The Packers hope to return to the state tournament after missing out last season with a team that was half freshmen playing their first varsity games. Those freshmen are sophomores now, and Brokmeier said it shouldn't take a couple years for the Packers to get back to state.
"I definitely think it's going to happen this season," she said. "A lot of us have experience playing at this higher level. Our sophomores have had another year on varsity compared to most sophomores on other teams. State is definitely our goal."
With just over one third of their conference games behind them, the Packers sit in a tie for fifth place with Grand Forks Central. Only winless Devils Lake is below the two squads in the seven-team conference. The top four teams at the end of the regular season, which ends May 20, make the state tournament held in Bismarck.
West Fargo is scheduled to host Fargo South tonight. The Packers lost to the Bruins 3-0 in their first matchup of the season on April 17.
"It's a winnable game, because now we're going to produce," said Melendez. "There were seven to eight occasions where we could have scored last time we played them, but we didn't. Their keeper made three outstanding saves against us. We can beat them."