New regime, new team

It was an offseason of change for the Minot High boys soccer team.

The Magicians lost 10 players to graduation, along with their leading scorer and their coach.

Cody Saunders resigned in November after five years at the helm. In his final season, Saunders led Minot to an 8-4-5 record, reaching the third-place game at the state tournament, which wasn’t played due to inclement weather.

Filling Saunders’ shoes is a familiar face to the program in Creighton Bachmeier. An assistant coach last season, Bachmeier played three years in a Magicians uniform and was a member of the 2006 team that won Minot’s lone state title. He played collegiately at the University of Jamestown for four years, recording seven goals and one assist as a center midfielder.

“I’m looking to bring that enthusiasm and that passion for the game that I love so much and being a part of Minot soccer again,” Bachmeier said. “It’s a huge privilege and an honor to be the head coach of a program that helped mold me into who I am today.”

Bachmeier inherits a dramatically different team from a year ago. Of those returning from last season, five are seniors and three are juniors.

“We have a lot of young kids coming in, but they’re very good,” junior Matt Oswalt said. “We had some big losses, but I think we’ll make up for it.”

The biggest loss was also the most surprising. Ekow Annan, Minot’s leading scorer from last year with 17 goals and nine assists, moved to Georgia with his family in July. He would have been a senior. Bachmeier said the loss of Annan and 10 seniors opens the door for the younger players to step up.

“We have a lot of young, talented players that are eager and chomping at the bit to get out there and prove themselves on the varsity field,” he said. “We lost those guys and they’re a very talented, hard-working group, but right now we are comfortable with what we have.”

In total, the Magicians lost 69.4 percent of their scoring from last year. Oswalt and senior Teegan Olson each tallied, tied for the most among returners. The returners accounted for 20 goals and 14 assists.

“We’re young, but we’re talented,” Olson said. “These guys have been playing with one another for quite a while. We have a lot of talent.”

The focus in the early going has been on conditioning. In order to compete with the West Region’s top tier – Century, Bismarck and St. Mary’s – Bachmeier believes his team’s fitness level will go a long way.

“We’ve changed up quite a few things,” Bachmeier said. “Coach Saunders laid a good foundation for these kids. Now I’m just bringing a little more enthusiasm, bringing some fitness to the table and the knowledge I’ve gotten from playing at a college level.”

Bachmeier makes his coaching debut with the Magicians in Jamestown on Saturday during the East-West Crossover in Jamestown. Minot plays Fargo North at 11 a.m. and Fargo South at 2 p.m.

Mike Kraft covers Minot High athletics and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft24_MDN.