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West Fargo Sheyenne boys soccer determined to make state tournament

Patrick Smith of West Fargo Sheyenne chases the ball during a scrimmage Friday, August 10, 2018, at the Pepsi Soccer Complex in Fargo. Erin Bormett / The Forum

Last season, West Fargo Sheyenne missed punching its ticket to the 2017 North Dakota state boys soccer tournament by only one point.

Fargo Shanley tied Sheyenne in the last regular-season match of the year to edge the Mustangs and claim a spot in the state tournament.

"We were quite disappointed after that, but then we got over it," senior midfielder Patrick Smith said. "It's a new season, new start, we've got some new guys who can work with us and build a better chemistry and try and do better."

Last season, the Mustangs finished fifth in the Eastern Dakota Conference with a 6-6-5 overall record. Sheyenne opens the 2018 season on Friday, Aug. 17 against Jamestown at a tournament in Jamestown, N.D.

Sheyenne graduated a large group of seniors. Mustangs head coach Jonathan Melendez said the returning players are hungry to make the postseason this year.

"That's the motivation for this group of returning players and I see that from day one," Melendez said. "Our goal is to make it to state, it doesn't matter what spot."

Smith and junior Hussein Mohamed, who are each team captains, headline the Mustangs key returners. Senior Narayan Limbu and junior Melvin Dennis are other notable upperclassmen who will be back. Sophomores Kai Black and Kayden Aberle are expected to fulfill important roles as well.

Melendez said Smith sets an example for his teammates. He cited a time when Smith was the first to finish in the team's fitness test and immediately motivated everyone else until they were done.

"Patrick is one of (the team leaders)," Melendez said. "He holds the standards really high and holds everybody accountable. ... He's not only talented, but a good leader."

Smith embraces his role.

"I'm kind of the only senior playing varsity right now, so the guys look up to me," Smith said. "I have to show a positive influence on them and show them how Sheyenne soccer is."

Melendez said attacking will be the team's strong suit, but would like to see the Mustangs concede less goals this season.

Although the objective is to make it to the state tournament, Melendez will view the season as a success if his team is cohesive.

"A successful season is not only wins and losses," Melendez said. "For us, more than winning, can we create a chemistry, can we play as a team and compete every game ... become a part of the high school community and become leaders in every aspect."

Coach: Jonathan Melendez-Soloaga (third season)

Last season: fifth in the Eastern Dakota Conference

Who's gone: Zachary Douglas, Sean Fenelon, Elisha Negron, Leonard Dunor, Sondre Oestgaard-Rygg, Gideon Kamau, Channing Stelljes, Dario Kolanovic, Suman Lamitare, Tejas Bajwa, Sam Kramer, Zach Nelson

Key returners: Kai Black, So., Hussein Mohamed, Jr., Patrick Smith, Sr., Kayden Aberle, So., Narayan Limbu, Sr., Melvin Dennis, Jr.