Loss of scoring has Minot girls changing approach

It’s a contrasting scenario for Matt Pfau, one that isn’t foreign to the 12th-year Minot High girls soccer coach.

High-scoring Alex Bachman-Williams and Emily Christensen, who paced the Majettes’ senior-heavy roster a year ago, can now be found on the University of Mary’s pitch.

Mainstay goalie MaKayla Sandvold has exchanged her cleats for skates as a member Minot State’s hockey team.

But the loss of that trio isn’t enough for Pfau to think his program is in a state of depletion.

It’s enough to alter this uber-young team’s identity, though.

“We’re going to be more of a defensive team this year,” said Pfau, whose team opens its season at Bismarck St. Mary’s next Friday. “We return a lot of experience defensively. We lost a lot of scoring, so we’re going to be trying to win a lot of those 1-0 kind of games.”

Minot, which placed fourth at the Class A state tournament a year ago, returns five starters on a roster littered with underclassmen. The lone senior is first-year midfielder Claire Super.

Juniors Paige Melby (defense) Makaila Anderson (midfield) and a sophomore-loaded class of Teasha Hughes (forward), Taryn Love (midfield) and Malena Lennon (defense) were significant contributors a year ago and will shoulder more of a role this spring.

Another sophomore, Kaitlyn Stenberg, has locked down the starting goalie job.

Melby, expected to anchor Minot’s defense, believes her team is in a position to reload.

“We have a lot of great chemistry within the team, but we know it’s going to be a challenge,” she said. “We’re definitely going to have a strong defense, but I also think we have strong forwards.”

Leading the forwards is Hughes, who cracked Minot’s starting lineup as a freshman last season. She’ll be relied upon to score along with freshman speedster Alicia Feehan.

Not that Pfau is expecting his club to match the three-goals-per-game average of 2012.

“This is just a different team,” Pfau said. “We’re going to have to be really physical this year. Rely on our defense until our offense comes around.”

Minot has qualified for the state tournament four consecutive years and placed third in the West Region last season. The longtime coach believes his young squad can lengthen that streak.

“Century is going to be the team to beat, like always,” Pfau said. “I expect all three Bismarck schools to be pretty good. We can be right there. We’ll know more when we can get out and play.”

Minot’s season-opening East-West Crossover games at Mandan this weekend were canceled.