This year is a new start for the Midgets, who finished fifth last season in the Western Dakota Association, and a new start for new head coach Akindeji Oluwafemi, who took the job a month ago.
“I know we didn’t have too much time to practice before the start of the season, but it’s great to make an impact and share what I know with the kids,” Akindeji said. “The team is really great, they made my job easier to do.”
The Midgets are vowed to counter attacks and defensive clearances as needed, but they would also commit costly fouls that would lead to three yellow cards and a penalty, which would be where Mandan would win the game.
Fabricio Pereira begins to run an inside race in hopes of joining one of his teammates. (Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press)
“Our counterattack is pretty good, we just need to work on the finish,” Akindeji said. “Today we made good use of the wings, we just need to strike for the goal.”
Dickinson had seven shots on target, but each would fall safely into the hands of the keeper. Fabricio Pereira had the most shots for the team with three from the wing, while Peres Oti-Akentung showed precision with two shots on his own and controlled the midfield with a few successful tackles – and a less successful slip.
Peres Oti-Akentung looks back on the Mandan player he committed in a slipped tackle that would have earned him a yellow card. (Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press)
Dickinson’s defense was also busy throughout the game, especially with the Braves dominating possession in the second half. Center-back Grant Bittner, the Midgets captain, put in a strong performance in the heart of Dickinson’s defense, while goaltender Jace Hughes showed attention, preventing eight shots.
However, Hughes would concede the penalty in the second half.
On the penalty, Hughes was tricked by Mandan’s shooter, taking a slight step to his left, before realizing the ball had gone the other way and into the back of the net on his right side.
Goalkeeper Jace Hughes fails to prevent the penalty from entering the net. (Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press)
The Midgets would try to hit the Braves on the counterattack, when the moments present themselves, but none of their effort would give them an equalizer before the final whistle.
“The team played well, we just need to work more to communicate with each other and get the ball to the ground,” Akindeji said. “I know we still have a lot of work to do, but to be honest I see a lot of progress. I think the next matches will get better and better. “
New head coach Akindeji Oluwafemi talks to his team after their match is over. (Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press)
The Midgets’ next game will be another home game, this time against Bismarck High on Tuesday, August 24.