Soccer squad takes fourth at state
Over the course of her four-year career, three as a varsity member of the West Fargo girls soccer squad, Jill Kussatz has put the ball in the back of the net more than a few times.
In fact, the East Region Senior Athlete of the Year has been first or second on the team in points in each of the last two seasons.
But no goal, undoubtedly, was bigger than the one she sent by Bismarck net-minder Bailey Mahlum in the second overtime of their quarterfinal contest. The golden goal gave the Packers a 3-2 lead, and advanced them to the semifinals versus Fargo South.
Kussatz took an open-field pass from teammate Nicole Hertel, (and why not, the two combined for more than 35 goals on the season) and controlled it at the 18-yard mark, slipping a shot by Mahlum for her second goal of the game. She scored the games first tally with a penalty shot in the opening half.
Shes a good leader for us, Jim Flores, head coach of the Packers, said of his senior forward. Shes a smart player. Jill does a lot of things on the field for us.
The even bigger goal came from an unlikely character in this dramatic game, as Cassie Beckerleg, not known for her offense throughout the course of the regular season, scored the goal that would keep the Packers trophy hopes alive with just over five minutes left in the contest. Beckerleg tied the game at three, and paved the way for Kussatzs double-overtime dramatics. Senior Jenell Lammers had the assist on the game-tying score.
In net, Marie Johnson was rock-solid, giving up no goals throughout the critical phase of the second half, and denying the defending state champions throughout both overtimes.
In the semifinal, West Fargo was done in by the tandem of Alex Zarling and Rachel Loomis, who combined on three goals that were all similar in fashion. Loomis carried the ball into the West Fargo zone, hit a streaking Zarling on a through ball as Zarling raced by defender Tiff Gjestvang, and Zarling finished on all three occasions, beating Johnson.
Nicole Hertel had the lone tally for the Pack, who fell 3-1 to South, their third loss to the Bruins in as many meetings on the season. Kussatz had the assist.
Playing for the bronze, West Fargos defense was steamrolled by Bismarck Centurys killer Bs, as Brittany Jossart, Brittany Mayer and Brittany Kuntz combined for four of five Patriot goals in a 5-0 route.
The Packers, pressured, tired and out of sorts, managed just two shots in the game, both in the second half. Johnson saved just six of 11 Century shots.
Theyre one of the best teams weve seen all year, and they can put it together, Flores, whose team lost to Century for the second time this season. North played a heck of a game to beat them.
The Spartans, who scored a mild upset over Century with a 3-1 win (a No. 2 seed beating a No. 1), capitalized by winning the state championship when Rita Leruds corner kick went in against South, defeating the Bruins 1-0 in the state final.
West Fargo players Kussatz, Hertel, Lammers and Johanna Haerter were named to the All-East Region team. Lammers and Hertel were part of the All-State Tournament team, as well.