MANDAN, N.D. — A pair of quick strikes had the Bismarck Demons right where they wanted to be.
The West Region champions struck early in both halves, carrying them to a 2-1 semifinal victory over Fargo South on Tuesday in the North Dakota Class A boys state soccer tournament at Starion Sports Complex.
“What we talked about all year long was doing what we had to do and building so we could make sure we were playing in that last game of the state tournament,” Bismarck head coach Andy Foss said. “We were lucky enough to get through and that’s what we’re going to be doing tomorrow.”
Bismarck struck first, just eight minutes into the contest. Mason Stotz was fouled in the box and drew a penalty kick. He converted on a laser shot into the back of the net and the Demons led 1-0 early.
Coming out of the intermission in a 1-1 deadlock, sophomore midfielder Dominic Williams scored the eventual game-winner in the sixth minute of the second half.
“The guys were locked in and they came out flying at the start of both halves,” Foss said.
“We went hard and we deserved to score that goal,” Williams said. “Our team played really hard just to win this game and go to the finals tomorrow.”
“That first half, South kind of tilted the field on us and they were pressing and putting some heavy pressure on us,” Foss said. “We kind of had to weather that storm a little bit. I think a big thing for us was, we were able to kind of get the momentum back a little bit at the end of the first half and we kind of carried that into the second half.
“The guys came out absolutely flying and we were able to put one away from Dom. It was an unreal goal from Dom — great individual effort on that one — and we just kind of carried that energy the rest of the game.”
Despite the early deficit, Fargo South evened it up on an Alvin Johnson goal near the midway mark of the first half. The Bruins had a pair of apparent goals waved off in the first half on offside calls.
“Bismarck High — there’s a reason they’re No. 1. They’re a very good team,” Bruins head coach Amer Vatres said. “We tried, we had our chances and they had theirs. They got one in and we didn’t. Overall it was a good game, it could have gone either way, but congrats to Bismarck, they played well.”
Once the Demons got the lead, they finished with a strong defensive effort, limiting the Bruins’ chances in the second half.
“It was a matter of executing and not making mistakes,” Foss said.
“When you’re playing against a team like Bismarck, as good as they are, any mistake could be deadly and that’s what it was,” Vatres said.
The Demons didn’t change anything down the stretch in the second half.
“Our brand of soccer, we can kind of weather anything if we make sure we’re playing together and we’re playing hard,” Foss said. “So we didn’t really need to change anything. South started sending some numbers there toward the end and we just dropped our guys in with them. It wasn’t really changing anything, we were just making sure we stayed on our marks and executed everything.”
Krishna Puwar finished with four saves for the Bruins (10-3-4), who will play the West Fargo Sheyenne/Fargo Davies loser in the third-place game at noon Wednesday.
The Demons (14-1-3) will take on the Sheyenne/Davies winner at 2 p.m. in the state title game.
“We’ve got some guys that are going to be tired. They played 80 minutes yesterday, played 80 more minutes today,” Foss said. “Rest is going to be a big key for us, and then just making sure we come out with the same kind of energy that we showed today. The guys gave everything they had today to come out with a win and we need to make sure we match that same effort and intensity tomorrow.”