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Ludwig leads Dickinson into state

Press Photo by Chris Aarhus Dickinson goalie Ashley Ludwig is in her fifth year of starting for the Midgets, who meet Fargo North in the quarterfinals of the state tournament at Grand Forks.

Ashley Ludwig admits the anger boils up inside her when she gets taken out of a game.

The longtime Dickinson goalie has been a mainstay in the net for the Midgets since she was an eighth-grader. Now a senior, Ludwig has been pulled a few times this season in favor of backup Megan Dukart when the Midgets were too far behind in the third period.

"It sucks knowing that 'wow, I did try my hardest, but it wasn't good enough,' " Ludwig said. "It definitely affects you and the way you play."

Ludwig hasn't been pulled much in her career, and Dickinson coach Chris Coates said it's certainly not something he does carelessly.

"I don't want to take her out of the game," Coates said. "It's not a punishment or anything ... I want her to have the best season ever being her senior year. I want her to finish up her season and say "I played the best I could."

Ludwig gets that chance when the eighth-seeded Midgets meet top-seeded Fargo North in the quarterfinals of the state tournament at 11:30 a.m. today at Purpur Arena in Grand Forks.

Though getting pulled has been a personal battle that Ludwig has had to overcome, she believes she's ready for her first state tournament. None of her teammates have experienced the state tournament, either.

"We wanted to go to state and we knew what we had in for us," Ludwig said. "We definitely worked hard and deserve to go to state."

Ludwig's save percentage of 87.7 may not look appealing, but that hasn't swayed the thinking of Coates, who is in his first year leading the Midgets.

"When Ashley's got her game on, she's a formidable force for anybody coming at her with a puck," Coates said. "We're really going to need her to be on her game."

Coates said Ludwig thrives off her ability to scout opposing shooters.

"She's really good about sizing the shooters up," Coates said. "Before games, she likes to look at the shooters and see how they're shooting ... get a feel for them ... who the snipers are on the team. She has a really good way of reading the play."

Ludwig has come a long way from being a young girl who decided to play goalie because she thought it was "the laziest position."

"After I tried it out for a couple weeks, I was like 'yeah, this is going to be tough,' " Ludwig said. "You have to be in great shape and have great hand-eye coordination."

That's not even considering the amount of mental preparation and toughness that's required to play goaltender.

"You always have to be at the top of your game, otherwise you let your team down," Ludwig said.

The Midgets (10-11) face an uphill battle in North, which has just two North Dakota losses this season in its 18-3 record. Coates said Dickinson needs to play error-free.

"Hopefully, Fargo North will make mistakes and we'll be able to capitalize on those mistakes," Coates said. "What we have to do is not make any mistakes. Fargo North is too good of a team. You can't afford to make a mistake or you'll pay for it."

The Midgets are led in scoring by senior Christina Lantz, who has team highs of 19 points and 13 assists. Dickinson lost to Fargo North at home 5-1 earlier this season.

"All it would take is for them to have a less than exemplary game and us play a great game and we'll be right in it," Coates added.