Thu, Oct. 24, 2002
Two days after attending his father's funeral, Jim Stanislowski was stopping shot after shot - making like a human wall - in the North Dakota boys state soccer tournament.
Jim would have had it no other way. You see, Thomas Stanislowski had multiple sclerosis and was placed in a nursing home more than two years ago. He didn't get to see his sons, Grand Forks Red River seniors Jim and Dan, play high school soccer.
“Every time I went on the field, I pointed to the sky,” Jim said. “It was the first games my dad had been watching for a long, long time.”
Jim figures his father witnessed the memorable performance turned in by his sons and their Red River teammates. The Roughriders played stout defense, allowing just one goal in more than five hours of continuous play.
After Josh Campoverde scored to give Red River a 1-0 shoot-out victory against Fargo South in the championship game Saturday in Fargo, the Roughriders had earned the school's first state boys soccer title.
There were many story lines. Pat Cox, an offensive machine for the Roughriders, was named boys soccer outstanding senior athlete. Tom Steen, the 10-year veteran who got Red River into the final for the first time, was named state coach of the year. Four Roughriders were named to the all-tournament team - Jim Stanislowski, Cox, Campoverde and Jared Misialek.
Perhaps the most amazing story of all was the one involving Jim Stanislowski.
Jim took up goaltending just last summer, when a club team he was on needed a replacement for an injured player. A few months later, Jim backstopped the Roughriders to the biggest victory in school history.
“The entire defense was just incredible, with Jim being the end of the line,” Steen said.
In the shoot-out, the schools alternated shots. Each had five attempts. Red River scored on all five. South scored on four attempts. Jim would raise his arms and hold them to the side before each Bruin attempt, trying to make himself look bigger, stay focused and maybe intimidate the shooters.
Shoot-outs find the shooter against the goalie, from 12 yards out.
Basically, it comes down to which goalie can make a key stop.
“I wasn't nervous,” Jim said. “I was focused.”
After Campoverde's clinching goal, Red River players piled on him. Others piled on Jim Stanislowski.
Later, the team hoisted its goalkeeper.
The shutout in regulation and overtime play was Red River's 13th of the season. Jim Stanislowski, who had a hand in most of them, allowed just one nonshoot-out goal in 340 minutes of play in the two-day state tournament.
“He said that his dad was in the net with him,” said Diane Stanislowski, the mother of Jim and Dan.
Like so many on the senior-laden Red River team, brother Dan contributed, too. The midfielder was asked to shadow one of Bismarck Century's top scorers in pool play, and he shut him down.
“Dan felt like he was running with him on the sidelines,” Diane Stanislowski said.
It was a good ending to a tough week.
The entire Red River team went to Thomas Stanislowski's wake last week. Some went to the funeral, too.
Jim said, “The beginning of the week was the low point in my life, and the end of the week was the high point in my life, so far.”
A keeper weekend.
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