WEST FARGO - In most instances in sports, ties are seen as a sorry substitute for winning.
That line of thinking didn't seem to be shared with the Fargo Davies boys soccer team Thursday night.
The Eagles jumped out to a 2-0 halftime lead then held off West Fargo just enough to escape with a 2-2 tie that helped Davies clinch the No. 1 seed in the East for next week's state tournament.
The Eagles will enter state, scheduled for next Thursday-Saturday in Grand Forks, as the top seed for the first time in program history.
"It's an unreal feeling," Davies Coach Ian Costello said. "(The seniors) have been around this program, they've seen where we've come from and listened to the message of playing for each other. That's the sweetest thing about it."
Playing in a frigid and driving rain storm that lasted the entire game, Davies wasted little time getting on the scoreboard, as a West Fargo defensive breakdown gave Matthew Memer a wide open look at the goal, which he converted just 2:44 into the contest.
West Fargo proceeded to control the ball for the better part of 10 minutes, but was unable to make a dent on the scoreboard, thanks largely to the play of goalie Noah Sahr, who made two excellent saves against star Packer forward Daniel Collins.
The senior keeper made a lunging stop of an open Collins shot in the 10th minute, then displayed great concentration to bat away a ball Collins bent around an Eagle defender in the 19th.
The Eagles were then able to double their lead at the half on an athletic goal by Yonas Adams, who weaved around a pair of Packer defenders and fired a rocket into the back of the net from just outside the penalty area.
Despite being in a big hole, a Packer team that would have earned the top seed with a win, didn't go away quietly.
After enduring a few rough bounces early, the West Fargo offense finally caught a break 15 minutes into the second half, as an Enoch Gartel shot deflected off an Eagle defender and into the net, cutting the deficit to 2-1.
Exactly 10 minutes later, the Packers evened the score off a free kick, as Nuradin Musa collected a loose ball in front of the net and blasted a shot by Sahr.
The goals highlighted a dominant second-half performance for a Packer team in need of a spark, after a sluggish seven-day period that saw them fall to second place in the Eastern Dakota Conference.
But the rally wasn't enough, as the Eagles closed conference play 11-1-2, one game clear of West Fargo.
"(Being on the first No. 1 seed) means everything," said Nemer, a fifth-year varsity player and one of 13 seniors on the Davies roster. "All the hard work's paid off. It's a good feeling to get it all done."
Thursday's game gave reason to think the two squads, who also played to a 1-1 tie on Aug. 28, could meet again in next Saturday's title game, an outcome both parties seem in favor of.
"It's a pretty even match," West Fargo Coach James Moe said. "You have to play perfect against us and against them. You have to capitalize on mistakes in order to get (the results) you want."
"Next time we see them will hopefully be in the state championship game," added Nemer. "It'll be intense and it'll be a close game again."