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Packers girls soccer team confident at season’s start

Ashley Greenlund connects a header during soccer practice at the Lodoen Center gym. David Samson1 / 2
Bailey Hurley concentrates during soccer practice. David Samson2 / 2

Despite being the top team in the Eastern Dakota Conference during a painfully shortened regular season last spring, the West Fargo girls soccer team was unable to qualify for the state tournament for the third consecutive year.

This season, according to head coach James Moe, things should be different.

“We have been knocking on the door for three years, and it’s our time to go,” Moe said. “These girls want it. You can see that at every practice.”

Moe, in his fourth year as the girls coach, admits his team has lost some key starters from last season, especially on defense, but is confident in his team’s performance in their three weeks of practice, and says it is very apparent that his athletes have been training in the offseason.

“They look very smooth right now,” Moe said. “Obviously we are indoors, which is a different ballgame, but their first touch looks good and their passing looks crisp. They seem pretty connected.”

The team will see several players “stepping up” to be major contributors – including its three new captains, midfielders Bailey Hurley and Ashley Greenlund, and defender Alexis Young – and their coach expressed his excitement to see last year’s role players have expanded opportunities.

With the melting snow and rising temperatures, the Packers are likely to finally find their way outside this week. This is obviously a welcome change of pace for the team, as not only does the hardwood floor “take a tougher toll” on an athlete’s legs, but it is also difficult to acclimate to the nuances of the game when not on a grass field.

“The ball just doesn’t roll the same indoors, and we have to practice with smaller goals,” Moe said. “It’s not great, but we start out against teams going through the same transitions, so it is not too bad.”

While his athletes still need to work on a few things — particularly staying involved in the play when they do not have the ball and staying vocal throughout the entire game — Moe his very happy with how the Packers stack up against their rivals in the Eastern Dakota Conference.

“Everyone lost really good players, so I think it is a wide-open EDC,” Moe said. “If we can play a defensive-minded game and not make too many mistakes, I think we can be with them at the end.”

The Packers are scheduled to have an evening home game on Thursday at 7 p.m., and then travel to Mandan on Saturday to face Bismarck at 11 a.m. and Minot at 3 p.m. On Tuesday, they are set to host Fargo Shanley at 7 p.m.