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Blue Jays combining experience, strong mental game this fall

The Jamestown High School boys soccer team began practices on August 1.

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The Blue Jays boys' soccer team practices Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022, on Erstad Field at Jamestown High School.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun
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JAMESTOWN — Brandi Harty has been waiting patiently for the Jamestown High School boys soccer team's physical game to catch up to the level of the squad's mental game.

The wait is ... pretty much ... over.

"I am really excited for this season," Harty, the JHS head soccer coach, said. "The boys that we have in our program play a lot of soccer and the majority of those playing on the varsity team have been playing all summer and preparing for this.

"Some of them have caught up — some are still going to grow being that they are only 15 years old but they are a lot stronger than they have been the last few years,"

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The Blue Jays are already off and running in terms of practices but is set to kick off the official season on Aug. 16 with a road match against Bismarck Legacy. The game is slated to begin at 7:30 p.m.

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Jack Paulson, Dylan Altringer and Jarrett Zalumskis will be the three seniors who Harty is predicting will lead the squad this season as all three have seen extensive minutes over the last few seasons.

Harty is also really excited about the sophomore class as most of the soon-to-be 10th graders have been playing soccer since they were youngsters. Combine the strong mental game of the sophomores and the seniors' experience, it could make for a great season out at Rotary Field.

The Blue Jays welcomed in Iddi Ramadhahi, a going-to-be sophomore originally from California. Ramadhahi moved to Jamestown at the beginning of 2022 and spent the spring and summer months training and getting to know the guys in the Blue Jay soccer program.

"He is a very creative and dynamic player and I am excited to see what he can do," Harty said. "He's really done a nice job of coming in and playing this summer with these other boys. He fits really nicely into our team."

Harty is expecting Ramadhahi to fill in a couple of different roles this fall but Blue Jay fans will predominantly see him at the forward position.

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The Blue Jays boys' soccer team practices Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022, on Erstad Field at Jamestown High School.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

Connor Traut was a huge player in the midfield for the 2021 squad but will move up into more of an attacking role for his junior season.

Due to a slew of injuries last season, Gabe Jennison, a soon-to-be sophomore, had to step in and fill as a freshman. Harty was so impressed with his freshman year performance and offseason training that he will be starting in the center back row as the Blue Jays lost both Hunter Nelson and Cullin Bennett to graduation.

"He has taken on this role and is running with it," Harty said. "He's a very good player. He's gotten a lot stronger and he's very smart, so that's a big one."

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Brady Harty missed most of his freshman season last year with a broken ankle but is back and rearing to go this season. Coach Harty said with Brady and Traut working together in the midfield, the Blue Jays are going to have a lot of scoring opportunities thrown their way.

As of Aug. 4, Harty didn't know who's going to be in net for the Blue Jays this fall — not because she doesn't have options but because she's got one too many.

"Ryan Larson is our returner but Grant Lunde has played a lot of soccer this summer and he's a newer and younger player so there's going to be a little bit of a battle between the two," Harty said. "Both are really similar in how they play so it will be kind of interesting to see what happens back there."

"I am excited to see all of the hard work that these kids have put in during the offseason to see if they can compete," Harty said. "I think they can but they have to do it in the end. It will be nice to see the final product."

In terms of competition, Harty said she is expecting Century to reload their roster and for Minot to field yet another dynamic team that works well together.

Bismarck High and Bismarck Legacy are a bit of a mystery in terms of who's going to come back and anchor the team but Harty said she knows both programs are getting a lot of kids who are good soccer players introduced to their teams.

Dickinson and Williston both have kids in their programs who are young but who love to play the game of soccer and could pose challenging to the Blue Jays in their quest to get back to the state tournament.

"We just have to make sure that every game we are prepared for a variety of style of play," Harty said. "It's going to be interesting this season."

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During the team's daily 9 a.m. to noon training sessions, Harty said the team is concentrating on attacking and finishing, something the squad just couldn't quite put toegether last fall.

"We had so many one goal losses last year and that was simply due to the fact that we couldn't put the ball in the net," Harty said. "During these two weeks we're really going to hone in on trying to attack a certain way and finding the back of the net.

"It's going to be interesting because a lot of these boys like to be conservative and possessive and that's great but we have to be risky and score goals to win games this year. It just has to happen."

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Coach Brandi Harty watches from the corner as two players battle for the ball during a first-week practice on Erstad Field at Jamestown High School.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

Katie Ringer is a sports reporter for the Jamestown Sun. Katie joined the Sun staff in the summer of 2019 after graduating from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire with a degree in journalism. She can be reached by email at kringer@jamestownsun.com or by phone at 701-952-8460.
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