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Shanley girls soccer team headed to state behind defense that is almost untouchable

Thursday, May 30, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Administration
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Shanley soccer defenders Lydia Mattern, from left, Natalie Heinrich, Ashley Hansen and Olivia Manuel work to keep the ball from getting to goalkeeper Molly Metzger. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Shanley soccer defenders Lydia Mattern, from left, Natalie Heinrich, Ashley Hansen and Olivia Manuel work to keep the ball from getting to goalkeeper Molly Metzger. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor 


Fargo Shanley girls soccer coach Lance Hansen has been coaching soccer for more than two decades. He has never seen a season like the Deacons are currently having.

The Deacons are not only the last remaining undefeated girls soccer team in North Dakota at 12-0-2, but only two teams have scored on them.

"We brought back 10 of our 11 players from last year," Hansen said. "Defense is a complete team effort to that. Molly (Metzger) has played well in keeper, but honestly she hasn't had many save opportunities. Our defense in front of her has done such a good job. It's pretty impressive what they've been able to do."

Every team in this week's state tournament has had a match where it has given up two goals. Four of the eight teams at state have had a match where its opponent scored more than two goals. The Deacons will open the North Dakota state tournament at noon Thursday in Jamestown against a Jamestown team that has given up 42 goals on the season.

Shanley, on the other hand, has given up two goals the entire season.

"I think it's our chemistry in the back line," Shanley junior defender Olivia Manuel said. "We all trust each other. At practices, we stay focused, but have fun. If we see something wrong, we'll critique it right away."

Manuel is joined by senior Natalie Heinrich, junior Ashley Hansen and sophomore Lydia Mattern as the last line of defense before Metzger in net. The four were together last season, so this season was about building on what they've learned rather than getting acquainted.

"Our chemistry with our whole team has worked really well together," Heinrich said. "Our forwards and midfielders have done so well with winning the ball back and we are just back there to finish things off. This was a shock to us too. We didn't expect to get scored on all the time, we just kind of went with it and continued to play our hardest."

The Deacons went eight games without being scored on to begin the season before Fargo North found the back of the net against them. They gave up a goal to Grand Forks Central as well.

"The crazy thing is I don't remember there being more than like three or four saves in a game," Hansen said. "There were some games where we didn't have any saves. I think it just comes from the fact we have seventh-graders and eighth-graders on the varsity team early in their careers. We get people a lot of experience."

Players like Manuel and Hansen have been playing varsity since eighth grade. In fact, Shanley players have combined for 35 state tournament appearances and that's with only three seniors on the team. The Deacons also have 15 different players who have scored goals this season.

"It helps a lot, too, that we only lost one senior last year, so the rest of the team gelled well together," Heinrich said. "It helps that we all had a lot of chemistry and played together. It just came together really well."

Shanley does have two scoreless ties on the season against West Fargo Sheyenne and Fargo Davies, both of which are also in the state tournament. The Deacons are fully aware there is nothing easy about the state tournament, as they have not won a title since 2012, losing in the state championship game twice since.

"At the end of the regular season, I told them congratulations on an undefeated season and now we're starting a new season," Hansen said. "You have to earn it when you get to state. Four years ago, we were driving to Jamestown and found out that Davies put like 40 shots on goal and lost in a shootout. We celebrated that Davies was out, but then we ended up going down to state and basically doing the same thing.

"When you get to state, it's a completely new season. We have to raise our level."


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