Understandably, Fargo Davies forward Sam Saye was feeling apprehensive when coach Ian Costello was asking his team who wanted to take the 10th penalty kick on Saturday. It was only the North Dakota state boys soccer championship that would be on his foot.
"At first, I was a little nervous but my teammates were helping me out," Saye said, "They were telling me, 'Sam, you got it. You got it.' When I stepped up to the ball I had confidence — I really wanted to take the PK. I just shot it."
And the rest was bedlam as the screaming Eagles rushed to him. After three unsuccessful title game appearances, after 80 scoreless minutes in regulation Saturday, after two scoreless 20-minute overtime periods and after 20 penalty kicks, Davies had a 1-0 win over Fargo Shanley and the program's first state championship.
In the penalty kicks, 18 Davies and Shanley players stepped up to ball 12 feet from the goal and all 18 scored. On No. 19, Davies goalkeeper Esteban Nunez guessed correctly and turned back a Shanley shot. Saye hit No. 20.
"Man, at that point it's just luck, honestly," Nunez said. "The boys played amazing. It was the first save I really had to make all game, really. Big tribute to them, to the defense. It was a great game and this is what we live for."
Fargo Davies Sam Saye strikes the game-winning penalty kick in the Eagles' 1-0 win over Fargo Shanley on the 10th penalty kick during the North Dakota Boys State Soccer Championship on Saturday at Rotary Field in Jamestown, N.D. Natalie Beiswenger / For the Forum
Davies' first state championship capped a 16-0-2 season. Shanley pulled off two upsets over West No. 1 seed Minot and East No. 2 Grand Forks Red River to reach the title game and finished the season 7-8-4.
In Saturday's game, most of it contested during constant rainfall, Davies dominated play, outshooting Shanley 19-2 in regulation and overtime. But Shanley pitched two shutouts in front of keeper Cole Jaeger in the quarterfinals and semifinals, and they managed to keep the Eagles out of their net until the final shot of the 2021 season.
After a relatively even first half, Davies controlled the first 12 minutes of the second, with Shanley rarely getting the ball past midfield with numbers. Jaeger made a sliding stop on a Savey Jones shot from about five yards out with 19:24 to play. Bill Mukundiyese just missed wide right with 16:45 left, and Jones almost connected on a couple other chances minutes later. It went on like that through the end of the half and the two overtimes.
"We had absolute confidence in ourselves, absolute control of every game," Nunez said. "This game, we couldn't put it in the back of the net but we had the ball the whole time and dominated. But props to Shanley, coming in as a four seed. They did absolutely fantastic."
Nunez dedicated the win to the Eagles seniors and recent graduates who didn't get that experience.
"We were in three state championships in four years (2017, 2018, 2019) and I saw my brother (Pablo Nunez) lose every one of those," Esteban Nunez said. "This goes out to every senior who had to go through that pain of losing."
Shanley knows that pain well. After winning the 2008 championship, the Deacons have played in and lost five title games, the last in 2016, before any current players were on the roster.
"This is their first state experience," Shanley coach Ryan Christianson said. "We have a young team, only graduating four seniors. We've got a big junior class, a big sophomore class. They got a taste of it and I'm sure we'll be back here next year."
Davies' victory came on the 20th anniversary of Costello, as a player, helping the 2001 Fargo South team win the last in a string of four straight state championships. A nice aside, but no connection, he said.
"They're totally different perspectives, being an 18-year-old and a backup goalie on a team where I saw some time, a little," he said. "But I'm just a piece of the puzzle. I told the boys, I'm not a big piece, it's them. It's them. It's them."