Livescore Thursday, April 25
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Mar. 29—DICKINSON — Dickinson’s girls’ soccer team enters its second year of varsity competition with great determination and a willingness to build off last year’s lessons. Despite being confined indoors for the first week of practice, they finally got onto the Biesiot Activities Center field on Thursday morning. There, they ran drills, emphasized conditioning, and acquainted both their JV and varsity teams with each other.

Chemistry will be a key factor this season, with an overall goal of better communication on the field while still maintaining individual growth.

This year, 52 girls have signed up for the program, surpassing last year’s total of 44. The majority are returners, but with the influx of youth in their ranks, the JV team will focus on the fundamentals of the game, while the varsity will be challenged to improve their intermediate skills. The Midgets’ head coach, Celeste Hughes, recognizes that the end of the season comes down to what their athletes put into it today and hopes to see a competitive hunger from them.

“We have a good number of our varsity coming back so I am really excited about that. They know each other and I think they will be more communicative towards each other to help each other out,” Hughes said. “It is not going to be easy and it is going to be competitive here. They are going to have to want to be here and hopefully during the practices they are taking what we are teaching them to heart.”

Though their goal differentiation was lopsided towards goals against and they had only one win on the win-loss record, they are putting an emphasis on what they did right. As a young program, success is measured in inches, not meters.

The culture is still in process, with more kids wanting to be part of soccer. This gives them the opportunity to really focus on what they want to be the foundation. Like any coach, Hughes wants to see that “light bulb moment,” where everything suddenly comes together. They saw it happen a few times last year as a team, and it is certain to happen again.

“Putting things in motion during a practice and seeing it carry out onto the field during a game is a coach’s dream,” Hughes said. “Seeing the work actually benefiting the team in the long run.”

Ashtyn Wardell was Dickinson’s lead contributor, with two goals and an assist last year. The junior forward will be expected to lead the team’s offense with her ability to reach top speeds with the ball glued to her feet. She reads the field with a high IQ and will be working hard to create chances as well as putting the ball into the net.

“There is always room for improvement, so I hope to be faster and have better ball handling skills than last year so I can set myself and my team up to succeed,” Wardell said. “Soccer is a team sport where we win together and we lose together. With every scoring opportunity I have, I look to see if there is a teammate who has a better look. We will be working hard this season to be better than we were last year.”

Attacking midfielders Izy Strommen and Lauren Selle also made significant contributions for Dickinson last year.

Selle had the distinction of scoring the first varsity goal for the Midgets. She is a versatile player, exemplifying a box-to-box midfielder. With exceptional ball control and quick footwork, her best defining quality is her ability to be a team player.

“I just try to stay focused on both sides of the field, offensively and defensively,” Selle said. “Observing where my teammates are and anticipating how I can help my team during the game.”

On Dickinson’s defensive end, the return of goalkeeper Adrianna Cox will be a positive boost for the team. The now eighth-grader led the entire conference with 84 saves to her name.

Weather will be a factor when the team’s season begins in the spring, but Hughes hopes it will start to work in their favor. As of now, Dickinson’s first two games are scheduled at home, but they could end up on the road if their field remains covered in melting snow.

This year, there will be no region tournament; instead, the top four teams of both the WDA and EDC conferences will be invited to participate in the state championship. This sets the Midgets’ seasonal goal to be in the top four at the end of the season.

First, they face off against Mandan and then Bismarck Century on April 9 and April 12, respectively. Both teams shut out the Midgets last year, and the Braves took fifth place at state. Nonetheless, the Dickinson girls will enter each match with a determined spirit, knowing that each of the 40-minute halves will contribute to their skill development and varsity mentality.

“I hope to make the team better by pushing them to play their best at all times,” Selle said. “It starts with your attitude and effort. We need to give 100 percent not only in games but also in practice so we can continue to grow as a team and as individual soccer players. Because if you don’t play together as a team, it’s hard to be effective and have fun.”

Though their goal differentiation was lopsided towards goals against and they had only one win on the win-loss record, they are putting an emphasis on what they did right. As a young program, success is measured in inches, not meters.

The culture is still in process, with more kids wanting to be part of soccer. This gives them the opportunity to really focus on what they want to be the foundation. Like any coach, Hughes wants to see that “light bulb moment,” where everything suddenly comes together. They saw it happen a few times last year as a team, and it is certain to happen again.

“Putting things in motion during a practice and seeing it carry out onto the field during a game is a coach’s dream,” Hughes said. “Seeing the work actually benefiting the team in the long run.”

Ashtyn Wardell was Dickinson’s lead contributor, with two goals and an assist last year. The junior forward will be expected to lead the team’s offense with her ability to reach top speeds with the ball glued to her feet. She reads the field with a high IQ and will be working hard to create chances as well as putting the ball into the net.

“There is always room for improvement, so I hope to be faster and have better ball handling skills than last year so I can set myself and my team up to succeed,” Wardell said. “Soccer is a team sport where we win together and we lose together. With every scoring opportunity I have, I look to see if there is a teammate who has a better look. We will be working hard this season to be better then we were last year.”

Attacking midfielders Izy Strommen and Lauren Selle also made significant contributions for Dickinson last year.

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