Not even close

Cody Saunders picked the right time to make key adjustments to his starting lineup ahead of Thursday’s much-anticipated rematch with the Century boys soccer team.

Minot High (3-3-1 overall, 2-2-1 West Region) was struggling on offense before a pair of region games Friday and Saturday against overmatched foes Jamestown and Mandan.

Comfortable wins are expected against the Blue Jays and Braves, but the manner in which the Magicians scored 17 goals in two games was the important part.

MHS blasted Mandan 11-0 on Saturday at Optimist Soccer Complex. Senior Ryan Crabtree moved from the midfield into the attack this weekend and recorded a goal and four assists against the Braves (0-7, 0-5). Crabtree had a goal and an assist in Friday’s 6-0 road win over Jamestown (1-6-1, 1-3).

“We moved (Crabtree) up to work with Ekow (Annan) more,” Saunders said, “so they’re connecting more and Matt (Oswalt) likes to backtrack more, so we put him in the midfield. We just switched those two around and it’s definitely helped out a lot.”

The Magicians scored three times in barely more than two minutes to open against Mandan. Junior Teegan Olson scored the first goal on a volley off classmate K.J. Wright’s cross. Annan, a junior forward, scored the next two goals on crosses from senior Jacob Schmidt. Annan finished with a team-high three goals and assisted on Crabtree’s goal, which opened the second-half scoring. Schmidt scored once to go with his three assists. Minot scored six goals in the first half.

“Jumping on any team that early, it just shows what we’re about,” Saunders said. “We got back at 1:30 (a.m.). We had a game in Jamestown – a long bus ride – so they could’ve easily came out flat, but they didn’t. We’re starting to turn it up a little bit.”

Junior defender Jay Gray established himself in the attack with two goals on headers. Both services came off the foot of Crabtree. The first Gray goal came in the first half as Crabtree took a free kick from about 40 yards out. Ten minutes into the second half, Crabtree’s corner kick found Gray again.

“I feel like I’m getting the ball to (my) feet more and (Oswalt’s) winning a lot of the 50-50 balls, so it’s working out really well,” Crabtree said. “I think it’s a good change.”

Oswalt’s strength in the air will help MHS when it tries to avenge a 3-0 loss to Century. The Patriots (4-1-3, 2-0-2) dominated possession in a 3-0 win in Minot. Crabtree said the Magicians will need to possess the ball far longer than they did in the first meeting.

“Now that we have a little confidence and we’ll have a little rest and a few days ’til that game, we’ll see what happens against them,” Saunders said. “That is gonna kind of tell where we’re really at.”

Tim Chapman covers Minot High School athletics. Follow him on Twitter @chapmatp.