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Storybook season: Nelson giving the Jays her all this spring

Haley Nelson is one of three senior captains for the Blue Jay girls soccer team this season.

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Haley Nelson (15) celebrates her first goal against Bismarck on Tuesday, May 3, 2022, with Jamestown teammates, from left, Breanna Oettle (25), Liv Frohlich (6), Emma Hillerud (10), Sara Sletto (8), Hannah Murchie (17) and Brenna Hatch (14).
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun
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There seems to be a common problem that plagues WDA girls soccer teams when they face Jamestown.

It starts and ends with Haley Nelson.

Nelson, one of three senior captains for the Jamestown High School girls soccer team, is helping to lead the Blue Jays to its most-winningest season since 2017 when the Blue Jays took home the WDA tournament title.

"They had us picked fifth in the preseason poll and that made us even more determined to show everyone that we are not a fifth-ranked team," Nelson said. "We work just as hard if not harder than the other teams and we want to win more than ever."

As of May 19, the Jays are 7-6 heading into the West Region Tournament.

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Jamestown can clinch the fourth spot with a win or a tie in their final regular-season game against St. Mary's and a Mandan loss to Century. A Mandan win and a Jamestown loss would give the Braves the No. 4 spot.

The fourth seed means the Jays would skip out on a WDA play-in match and will instead play in a state qualifier on May 24 in Bismarck.

While the squad is truly on the up and up, the eight-week season did not begin on the best note. The Jays began the season at 1-4 in conference play before rattling five straight wins to go 6-4.

"We just knew that we had to step it up and play like we all are capable of playing," Nelson said of the Jays' progression over the spring.

Some teams in the WDA were not ready for what Nelson is capable of out on the soccer field.

As of May 17, Nelson already has 15 goals and two assists for 17 total points. The senior has put up three hat-tricks against Williston, Bismarck Century and Bismarck High to help her team win all three matches.

"In those games, I just wanted to show those teams that we are not 'an easy win' and that we can and will score," Nelson said. "A lot of the time too many people look at the person who scores, but everyone who’s on that field deserves just as much recognition.

"I have had great coaches and teammates that have played a huge part in every point that I get."

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Nelson has played soccer since she was three years old. The senior has been a member of the Blue Jay varsity soccer squad since her eighth-grade year. Nelson missed out on her sophomore season due to COVID-19.

Nelson has been a top-scorer for the Jays in 2019, 2021 and 2022. As a freshman, Nelson scored four goals and ended the spring with six total points, second only to University of Jamestown standout Peyton Rudnick.

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Jamestown's Haley Nelson celebrates after scoring a goal against Bismarck on Tuesday, May 3, 2022, at the UJ Turf Complex.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

As a junior, Nelson notched six goals and three assists for nine total points — the most on the team recorded across the 12 regular-season games played. In the team's state-qualifying match against Bismarck Legacy in the final round of the WDA tournament, Nelson was credited with clinching the game-winning goal that sent Jamestown back to the state tournament for the second-straight season.

Nelson earned all-state honors following the 2021 State Soccer Tournament.

"I try to get as much practice as I can in the off-season," Nelson said. "I practice every season except the winter due to gymnastics. "I’ve been working on my confidence in front of the net and taking my touches to the inside."

Entering her final prep season, Nelson was joined by most of the 2021 state tournament team except for JHS 2021 grad Sophie McClean and longtime head coach Brandi Harty.

This spring, Haley Hillstrom, a former player and all-state goalie for the Blue Jays soccer team, took over the Jays' squad.

"It’s definitely an adjustment from having Brandi for most of my high school career, but Haley has been really great," Nelson said. "She knows how to motivate us and is always telling us how much she believes in our abilities and skills which makes us believe in them too.

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"I’m grateful to have had not one but two head coaches who are so amazing. She and Brandi will both forever have a huge part in my soccer career."

While it truly would be a dream to wrap up her high school athletics career by winning the 2022 state tournament, Nelson said she and the Blue Jay squad is trying to take each game as it comes.

The 2022 regular season came to an end on Friday for the Jays. Final results of the Jays' tilt against St. Mary's were not available when the Jamestown Sun went to press.

No matter how her senior season ends, Nelson won't be a stranger to the soccer field as the Blue Jay standout has committed to continue her soccer career at the University of Mary.

"It hasn’t really hit me yet, it’s just so crazy to think that it’s almost over," Nelson said of the season coming to an end. "I’m just trying to have fun with everything I do and just appreciate these last couple of weeks."

Related Topics: JAMESTOWN BLUE JAYSPREP SPORTSBLUE JAYS SOCCER
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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