Firsts of many: Midgets wrap up inaugural varsity season 

Against all odds, the DHS girls' soccer team triumphs in their inaugural varsity season, embodying resilience, unity and unwavering determination as they transformed defeat into milestones.

Senior Sierra Raatz(22) using her dribbling skills.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

DICKINSON — Defying the odds and rising from the ashes of adversity, the DHS girls' soccer team etched their name in history during their inaugural year of varsity play. With unwavering determination and an unbreakable spirit, they transformed defeats into stepping stones, embracing challenges with camaraderie and emerging triumphant in the face of setbacks. Their journey, a testament to mental fortitude and unwavering resilience, paints a picture of a team that refused to be defined by losses but rather propelled by the promise of brighter horizons.

The Midgets played their first-ever varsity game against Minot on April 11 in an affair that would be best forgotten. They were welcomed into the Western Dakota Association varsity standings by a dubbing 18-0 loss to the Magicians. Minot is a powerhouse of a team that went undefeated in the regular season, sitting atop the WDA standings and is highly likely to win state.

The best consolation in the trial by fire, blowout defeat was that the worst was over. Resilience and grit displayed at each outing allowed the young Dickinson program to develop and grow, a progression evident by the end of the season. Leaning on the support of head coach Celeste Hughes and assistant Angie Shilman, the Midgets have surpassed thresholds and now serve as early milestones for the emerging program.

“Nothing is ever a given,” Hughes said. “Every game you have to work for. We know that more than anybody.”

Dickinson's first goal scored came on May 2 against Bismarck High to tie the match at 1-1. The equalizer was scored by sophomore Lauren Selle, just three minutes after the Demons’ opener. The well-placed shot, assisted by sophomore forward Ashtyn Wardell, ignited celebration. Although they ultimately lost with only one goal on their scoreline, it would be a testament to the positive direction in which they were heading.


Lauren Selle (21) header.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

"[Lauren] is new to us this year, but she is not new to soccer," Shilman said. "She switched over from track and she can bring it. She has the speed and she’s friends with everybody, so she already knew the team coming into it. We are just lucky to have her."

Their first win of the season came shortly before their away match against Bismarck High, hosting a non-conference game against Turtle Mountain Community High School on April 28. The Belcourt program is an independent JV team looking to test their own abilities, but a goal-hungry Dickinson side displayed a thrashing performance with a 7-0 victory.

In the first half alone, Dickinson totaled 21 shots on goal, 12 of which were on target.

The biggest triumph came on May 9 when the Midgets earned their program's first conference win against Williston — a historic occasion. Dickinson was aggressive throughout and held the majority of possession. The first half ended scoreless, but before the final whistle, the Midgets would knock in two goals for a clean sheet victory.

Ashtyn Wardell(30) taking a penalty kick against Williston.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

Wardell scored the opening goal near the top of the second half from a penalty kick, claiming her first goal of the season, energizing her team.

“I think we really needed that goal,” Wardell said. “It's all about the mindset. We have just been more confident with each other and lifting each other up. [The team] is a fun environment to be in, and I think the more we have fun and love each other, the better we do.”

The second goal was just as impressive as the first, coming from a well-practiced corner kick in the last seven minutes of the match. It was the second time in theseason they had scored off a corner kick, and both Hughes and Shilman were overjoyed, knowing the hard work put into practice on those drills.

“They struggled at the beginning, but we have told them, 'If you continue to work harder and harder, things will get better throughout,'" Hughes said. "This showed it. They were passing, they were talking, they were transitioning, and they were playing a really great game today."


They kept up the momentum on both offense and defense with an away prowess against Bismarck St. Mary's but fell short after a narrow 2-1 showing.

Their final home match, which brought the season full circle, was played against Minot. Although it resulted in another defeat, but manage to cut the previous deficit in half, finishing 9-0. Seventh-grader goalkeeper Adrianna Cox put in tremendous effort, facing 15 shots, saving six. After the match, Hughes ensured that their spirits remained high, acknowledging their incredible improvements, even if not fully reflected on the scoresheet.

Celeste Hughes talking to her team after their defeat against Minot on May 19.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

Their inaugural varsity season was put to rest, losing their WDA play-in match to Jamestown on Tuesday.

Dickinson accumulated two wins and a total of 11 goals in the seasonThese achievements will serve as kindling for future seasons, fueling the growth of a program ignited by a strong mentality and hard work..

“They are hard fighters,” Hughes said. “If you saw the first game against Minot at the beginning of the season, it was a hard loss, it was a really big deficit. Yes, we still lost, but the number is a whole lot smaller on that scoreboard. They have learned, they know how to play with each other, they know how to fight when it's tough, and they showed it on the field."

Josiah C. Cuellar was born in San Angelo, Texas, a small rural community in the western part of the state known for its farming, ranching and beautiful Concho River. A Texas A&M San Antonio graduate specializing in multi-media reporting, Cuellar is an award winning photographer and reporter whose work focuses on community news and sports.
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