Fort Dodge head girls soccer coach Nathan Ramthun hopes everyone can look past the 3-2 final on the scoreboard that read in favor of Ames.
The Little Cyclones tallied three goals in the second half, including the game-tying and eventual game-winning ones in the last nine minutes, at Dodger Stadium Friday night.
For Ramthun, the sting of defeat is one he can accept. The effort was there to produce a better end result, though.
"I hope everyone that sees Ames 3, Fort Dodge 2, can understand that we just played against one of the more tradition-rich programs in the state, and had them down for the majority of the match," said Ramthun, a native of Nevada who had several showdowns as a player with Ames. "We just got tired. I don't know if it was the emotion of jumping out to a 2-0 lead or missing five of our girls, but we ran out of gas late.
"Credit Ames, because they are fighting just like us and they came out and won it in the end."
The Dodgers (3-6 overall) had a game Thursday night and were without several regular players due to the high school musical going on at the same time.
Francis Lee didn't let that get in the way of a strong opening 40 minutes, netting two goals to give Fort Dodge an early lead. Lee, a senior who will play soccer at William Penn University, has now scored seven goals on the season and 24 for her career.
"Francis just played an excellent game," Ramthun said. "Her two goals were just vintage Francis Lee. She has incredible awareness and knows how to finish."
With Lee giving the Dodgers an advantage, junior Hailee Richardson was knocking away several Little Cyclone (7-4) scoring chances.
Richardson deflected 12 shots on goal in the first half and finished with 20 saves on the night. She now has 88 saves on the year.
"Hailee was just outstanding," Ramthun said. "Our defense played a great game and fought against a team loaded with future college players, including (Laura Friedrich) who is going to Iowa State on scholarship. We've been working on moving some players into new roles and I think things are starting to come together.
"We didn't get the win (Friday), but I couldn't be more proud of the effort our girls gave."
Ames, which has won its last three against the Dodgers by a combined goal count of 17-0, received goals from Endylion Strohman, Emily Frisk and Hartley Christensen. The goal by Christensen, a ninth-grader, came in the 77th minute of action.
Stella Maris Strohman, an Ames senior, is also headed to Iowa State to play soccer this fall. Her sister, Endylion, now leads the Little Cyclones with nine goals on the year.
Fort Dodge returns to action on Tuesday when they host No. 6 (Class 3A) Dowling Catholic. The Dodgers will also play the Maroons in a 3A regional opener on June 4 in Des Moines.