WHS soccer

The Williston High School girls soccer team poses with their coaches, Justin Graham and Abby Perez, and Graham's family before the start of an April 27 home game against Mandan. The girls team dedicated the game to Graham's dad, Max. Max has pancreatic cancer.

Williston High School JV1 girls soccer team defeated Mandan 3-0 on Tuesday, April 27, but the win had more meaning behind it than what played out on the field.

Abby Perez, the Williston assistant coach, said the players decided they would dedicate Tuesday’s game to head coach Justin Graham’s father, Max.

Justin said that his dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last summer. He said his dad tires easily, but the family counts their blessings every day because treatment is working and that is not the case for so many.

“It was very inspirational to see young kids care about that and to use that joy and to give that to him,” Perez said.

Justin added that before Tuesday’s game his daughters, Tegan and Scout (players on the team), teamed up with Lexi Christensen (another Williston player) to gather everyone together and meet Max.

On top of that, the players put purple tape under their eyes as another gesture to honor Max.

It was a sweet gesture from the team to Justin and Max, which they both greatly appreciated, and it brought everyone to tears.

The Lady Coyotes scored all their goals in the second half, after a first half where they had to kind their footing for a bit.

“The first half, (Mandan is) a physical team, so I think it knocked a couple of the girls off,” Justin said. “(We) were playing timid, they were a little bit shy, just a different speed.”

The second half was much better for Williston, something that was remedied by the halftime talk.

“But the second half, we just talked about playing free, having fun while we play, and being aggressive, winning the 50/50 balls,” Justin said. “They did a great job of coming out, and not playing through the stronger players, but playing around them, and we talked about that quite a bit at halftime.”

The Lady Coyotes are continuing to improve game-by-game, and one thing that really stood out in the game was that they were connecting passes better.

Perez and Justin both mentioned that the players were starting to work the ball to the sidelines more and work the ball up the field with connecting passes.

Justin also mentioned that the team is starting to learn how to lose and how to win. When they win, they are staying humble and keep working hard, and when they lose, the players are learning to use that as motivation more.

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