WEST FARGO - After spotting West Fargo Sheyenne a goal early, Telvin Vah and Daniel Collins got to work, making life miserable for the Mustangs in the process.
Vah and Collins each finished with hat tricks and spearheaded a five-goal onslaught in the first half, leading West Fargo to a 7-1 victory over its crosstown rival in Eastern Dakota Conference boys soccer Thursday night.
The Mustangs, who have yet to beat the Packers, got off to a fast start, taking a 1-0 lead in the 10th minute after Kayden Aberle scored on a free kick.
But that would be one of the few highlights for Sheyenne, as Van and Collins took over in a dominant 20-minute stretch.
Vah scored an unassisted goal in the 16th minute, then gave the Packers the lead for good in the 17th, scoring off a Lucas Simon assist.
Minutes 24-36 then belonged to Collins, who netted three goals in that time, pushing the West Fargo lead to 5-1.
The duo wasn’t done, each getting back onto the scoresheet in the second half.
Collins made a beautiful cross-field pass that Zach Milbrandt turned into a goal in the 62nd minute. Vah then completed his hat trick, scoring the night’s final goal with 8:30 to play.
Against the fastest opponent his team has faced this season, Sheyenne head coach Jon Melendez said the Mustangs struggled to adapt.
"Our centerbacks got caught high and they've got speed,” he said. “It caught us off guard and because we haven't encountered something like this yet in the EDC. And they capitalized.”
The Packer defense also got a strong showing from an unexpected source. Replacing goalkeeper Tommy Klein, who left the game with back spasms late in the first half, midfielder Ben Knudson stepped in and kept the Mustangs out of the goal the rest of the night.
Playing keeper at the varsity level for the first time, Knudson finished with six saves, including an athletic leaping knock away late in the second half.
While Packers head coach James Moe called his reserve goalie’s performance “fantastic,” Knudson was a bit more reserved in his assessment.
"I didn't do very well because I didn't control the ball,” he said. “But I kept the ball out of the net."
Coming off a disappointing week, highlighted by a 3-2 upset loss to Fargo South last Thursday, Moe was pleased with how his club responded, winning its last two games by a combined 14-1 margin.
Though happy with the results, he said it would be a big mistake for his players to feel complacent.
“I talked to the guys about not being satisfied with this,” Moe said. “(We can't) settle for what we're doing now. We've got to improve and we need to because you never know who's getting better."
The Packers are 6-1-1 overall and 3-1-1 in the EDC. Sheyenne falls to 2-3-2 and 1-3-2.