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Soccer squads battle it out during Dacotah Bank Cup

Gabe Johnson, of the HCSC Arsenal, left, kicks the ball past Jamestown’s Gabe Jenison, center, during their boys U-17 match Saturday at the Dacotah Bank Cup tournament at Moccasin Creek Soccer Complex. Photo by John Davis taken 6/26/2021

More than three dozen teams from North Dakota and South Dakota are competing in the annual Dacotah Bank Cup soccer tournament which concludes today at the Moccasin Creek Soccer complex.

The event takes months to plan and involves a lot of local volunteers.

“There’s probably 150-200 volunteers rotating in through two-hour shifts covering all the needed areas,” said tournament director Jason Brunson.

The complex is set up with fields in a variety of lengths, depending on the age groups playing. Brunson said there are currently 22 fields marked out, but that number nearly doubles for youth leagues.

Brunson said the City of Aberdeen plays a huge role when it comes to the complex.

“We’re grateful that the City coordinates and works with us,” Brunson said. “The City chalks them. The City mows. The City waters. It’s a great relationship we have with the City, 100 percent. We’re very fortunate.”

While the tourney helps to stimulate the economy from restaurants to hotels, Brunson is happy to have the event back following a year off from COVID.

“It’s fun to just let the kids play,” he said, “get them out there doing stuff, especially after everything going on.”

FROM SWIMMING TO SOCCER

Last weekend marked the Aberdeen Swim Club High Point Swim Meet and this weekend is the Dacotah Bank Cup Soccer Tournament. One individual was able to participate in both.

Lauren Sahli, 11, said it can be a bit tricky competing in two sports at the same time.

“I just go off of when I can make it,” she said. “It sometimes can be challenging, especially running to practice. It sometimes gets to be too much and sometimes it’s really fun.”

Sahli, who said she likes both sports about equally, said swimming and soccer kind of complement each other.

“Swimming makes it easier to run on the field,” she said, “and soccer makes it easy to kick and turn in the pool.”

Sahli said her friends in both sports try to make it out to watch and cheer her on if possible.

“I have friends in swimming that come to soccer tournaments to cheer me on, but they don’t (play soccer), they just like to watch me,” she said. “And then some soccer friends come to swim meets to watch me. I do have a lot of friends in both sports.”

COLLEGE VS. HIGH SCHOOL

Presentation College women’s soccer coach John Mclean is coaching a group of Aberdeen girls this summer.

Mclean said there aren’t many differences between college and high school soccer.

“It goes with physicality, pace of play, a lot of things like that,” Mclean said. “In terms of coaching on field stuff, there really isn’t as big of a difference as people believe.”

While coaching involves much more than rolling a ball out and letting kids play, Mclean said the girls who make up the Nitro squad are so used to playing with each other, it doesn’t take much coaching.

“To be honest with you, with this team most of it was roll the ball out and let them play,” Mclean said. “I just put little stipulations on it. Our goal keeper doesn’t punt the ball. She has to roll the ball out. I’ll create situations where it puts them under pressure and they just have to deal with it.”

Mclean said the keeper rolling the ball is an effort to keep opposing teams a bit more honest.

“In my opinion, if you can only kick the ball over the top, it’s very predictable to play against. If you can play short and play passes kind of like we did today and then play over the top, you create more problems than they can create solutions for.”

Mclean said coaching the younger girls actually helps him as a PC coach because he gets to learn what may or may not work in real game action.

He is definitely enjoying coaching the younger players.

“At the end of the day, it’s just fun, right? I say to them all the time, ‘Look, we’re not result-based.’ If we would have lost that game and still played like that, I would have been happy,” Mclean said. “You can base your performance on how you play and how hard you work. Everybody can work hard. We can’t always play well, but you can always work hard.”

ONE ON ONE

Elijah Franks found himself in a prime position during one of Saturday’s contests.

The 11-year-old was awarded a penalty kick in which a player gets a free shot against the goalie. Franks promptly deposited the ball into the upper lefthand corner of the goal for a score.

While one might think it’s automatic to score in that situation, Franks said he has missed on occasion in the past.

“Just don’t think about it,” Franks said of the key when facing a goalie one on one. “Just kick it where they can’t get it.”

Franks plays football, basketball, and baseball in addition to soccer. He said basketball is his favorite, “because I’m the best at it, I think.”

When asked about the physical nature of soccer, Franks said it can be difficult facing stronger opponents, as was the case on Saturday morning.

“It’s sometimes bad if they have a lot of big kids,” Franks said. “It’s kind of hard since they’re bigger and stronger.”

ROUGH AND TUMBLE

Soccer can definitely be a physical sport and the contact sometimes only picks up as the games wear on.

“When teams are losing they usually get mad and then they get physical,” said Brianna Fischer of the Storm team from Aberdeen. “And then we start getting mad and then we get physical a little bit, too.”

Fischer, who scored a goal in her team’s win on Saturday, plays the wing and striker positions.

The 12-year-old talked about the differences of indoor and outdoor soccer.

“In winter I like playing striker and outdoor I like playing wing,” Fischer said. “For wing outdoor you get to run more and strike indoor is a lot harder because you have to move quicker.”

LEARNING THE ROPES

Spencer Aberle grew up around the game of basketball, so it was natural that when he became an official he worked basketball games. Now, the Aberdeen man has added soccer to his officiating duties which also include football.

“It’s different, just because soccer is new to me,” said Aberle who has officiated soccer for three years. “Basketball is something I grew up with where soccer it something I learned watching my kids.”

Aberle found out how physical soccer can be when his son, who plays college soccer, endured three concussions.

To compound things, there is little equipment outside of shin guards for protection.

“There seems to be more injuries in soccer than there is in football at least from what my experience is,” Aberle said. “It’s a very physical sport.”

One thing is common across most sports and that’s the second-guessing of officials.

“Soccer there’s less fans, but they’re vocal. You can hear it,” Aberle said. “There’s less fans so it’s a lot more clear. You’re outdoors, so when people say something you can hear it directly that it’s at you.”

Still, Aberle is enjoying his time on the pitch.

“I love it,” Aberle said. “It’s a blast.”

To see complete results of the tournament click on the following link:

https://events.htgsports.net/?eventid=9605#/scheduleresults

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