An unexpected season of near top-of-the-table results won't produce a second-place finish in the West Region standings for Jamestown High School boys soccer.
Bismarck Century punched its ticket to the upcoming state soccer tournament Thursday night at Rotary Field, defeating Jamestown 4-2 to lock up the No. 2 spot in the conference. Jamestown needed a victory against Century and a second victory hosting Williston (0-13-0 overall) this Saturday to earn what would've been the second West Region runner-up finish in program history.
It bears repeating: Jamestown (9-4-1) was picked to finish sixth of seven conference teams after producing two wins in 2018.
"To be where we are and to be disappointed in ourselves that we didn't achieve second place in the West? Still, when you look back at the entire season, we put together one heckuva run here," JHS coach Mark Sherfy said. "There's a lot of soccer left to play for this team. They really wanted this one, but there's still a lot of upside for this team."
A rainy evening on the Rotary Field grass made for slick conditions between the Patriots and the Jays. After Jamestown peppered Century keeper Nathan Al-Khafaji with two early shots on goal, JHS keeper Jay Kupitz slipped in the 18-yard box while attempting to clear a ball and Century's Anthony Cleary wound up scoring his first of back-to-back goals, putting the visitors ahead 2-0 in the 17th minute.
Jamestown was unable to get organized offensively, being whistled offsides three times in the opening 19 minutes, and also lost sophomore starting back Hunter Nelson to injury in the 21st minute. Goals by the Jays' Jaden Christ and Luca Flann helped Jamestown trail 3-2 at the break after Nikko Helderop put Century ahead 3-1 in the 22nd minute on a free-kick assist from Teddy Hardmeyer.
The Patriots outshot the Jays 8-3 in the half and 13-4 in the match. Jamestown and Century played to a 3-3 draw on Sept. 10 in Bismarck. The Patriots will play top-seeded Bismarck in the West Region tournament championship match in Mandan on Oct. 5.
"Jamestown's a good team," said Century coach Ryan Okerson. "It's always a good feeling when you know you can't be eliminated from state. They guys played hard tonight, but as soon as we let up Jamestown came down and put one in the back of the net on us.
"It's a good learning experience for these guys as well to know that no matter what the scoreline, you can't stop."
Century's Chance Bowlinger added an insurance goal in the second half following a corner kick. Jamestown will earn the No. 3 seed for the conference tournament with a win over Williston this weekend, and would then play either Mandan or Williston on Oct. 5 at 2 p.m. in Mandan with the state tournament hanging in the balance.
The state soccer tournament begins Oct. 10 in Mandan.
"I thought the guys put the effort in tonight, but the decision-making wasn't where it needed to be," Sherfy said. "We tried to be too direct and go straight through them when we should've taken a different pathway to get to goal. We just lost focus on the fundamentals that would've allowed us to succeed today."
Bismarck Century 4, Jamestown 2
BC 3 1 -- 4
JHS 2 0 -- 2
First half: 1. BC, Anthony Cleary (unassisted), 6th minute; 2. BC, Cleary (Kenneth Brako) 17th; 3. J, Jaden Christ (Kael Jenison), 21st; 4. BC, Nikko Helderop (Teddy Hardmeyer), 22nd; 5. J, Luca Flann (Matt Morin), 39th.
Second half: 1 BC, Chance Bowlinger (unassisted), 55th.
Goalkeeper saves: BC, Nathan Al-Khafaji 2-1--3. J, Jay Kupitz 6-3--9.
Records: Century 9-4-2, 8-2-2 West Region. Jamestown 9-4-1, 6-4-1.