Packers soccer seeks to build on last year's state appearance
West Fargo senior Maddi Kramer won't be playing soccer in college, so she wants to make the most out of the sport while she can.
The Packers girls soccer team made the North Dakota state tournament as the East Region's No. 4 seed last year, losing to Bismarck Century 4-0 in the quarterfinals and 1-0 in overtime to Jamestown in the consolation semifinals. The Packers are now one season removed from splitting from West Fargo Sheyenne and lost some seniors who will be hard to replace—including first-team all-state selection Sydney Kramer—but Maddi Kramer still believes the Packers can make it to back to the state tournament again this season.
"We had a good group of girls come out this year, so all we can do is wait and see," second-year head coach George Gauld said. "We've got a pretty talented group, and I'm excited to see what they can do."
Kramer said the Packers have some talented returners this year and added some new players from other sports who are picking up the game quickly. She said the Packers will build on last year's experience and find team chemistry as they go.
"It's good to have players who are comfortable around the ball and have played varsity games before," Kramer said.
Kramer, who's a team captain, said she's trying to be a leading voice on the team, especially in the midfield where she thinks this year's team will be strong. The Packers will want to attack and defend as a team, which Gauld said will bring out the players' strengths.
"We have to capitalize on our chances because we have so many people who have experience," Kramer said. "If we can finish our chances and lock down defensively, I think we'll be good. The conference is going to be a lot tighter this year than it's been in previous years."
Senior captain Jensen Odegaard, who was on the state all-tournament team last year, is one of four players from Kindred who joined the team when Sheyenne and West Fargo split. She said said the Packers will be ready to step up against the best the Eastern Dakota Conference has to offer, and communication will be key.
"It definitely plays a big impact," Odegaard said. "We talk on the field and know how each other play. It's like we're already a step ahead having a lot of the same people on the team."
Having been to the state tournament the past two years, Gauld said the Packers know what it takes to get back. Ultimately, he said, they've got to want to improve and put in the extra time and effort.
"The girls learn how we coach and what the leaders expect," Gauld said. "Hopefully they try and adapt to that. There's a lot of factors that go into it. It comes down to how we can get through the tough times and improve on the things we're doing well."
West Fargo girls soccer
Coach: George Gauld (second season)
Last season: 4-13-1, state tournament appearance
Who's gone: Erica Lee and Sydney Kramer.
Key returners: Sarita Monger, Sr., F; Molly Hansen, Sr., D/M; Maddi Kramer, Sr., M; Zamzam Abdi, Sr., F; Kylie Stedman, Sr., D; Kyra Braaten, Sr., D; Gillian Sauter, Sr., D; Jensen Odegaard, Sr., M; Megan Berginski, Sr., M.