HELENA – All season long the Helena High girls soccer team was used to winning. Saturday’s Class AA state championship game was no different.

The top-seeded Bengals beat the reigning-champ Bozeman Hawks 4-2 to cement their position as the best team in the state.

“This tournament, I think the kids really made a statement,” said head coach Mike Meloy. “I mean, all of our games, even the championship game, were pretty much well in hand the entire game. We had a little bit of nervousness in the Bozeman game, but that’s what happens in a state championship.”

Story continues below

After going in as the top seed last year but dropping the first two games in the tournament, this win was special to the team, especially the seniors.

“I was just so excited. I mean, since last year it was a pretty big downfall and it was just so great to finally end my senior season on that note, end it on a win,” senior Katie Martin said with a smile.

“Everybody was so happy and so ecstatic and just wanted to finish out the game and get it over with so we could celebrate and just hug everybody and tell everybody how good they did and how much we deserved it,” added fellow senior Kamden Hilborn.

That combination of confidence and teamwork is what made these champs so special this year.

“The difference in this tournament and this season is these young women, not only played well, but played with smiles on their faces and I think they really enjoyed this year,” said Meloy. “Win or lose, that’s the goal and I think we achieved that goal this year.”

“We grew a lot as a team, and as we started out, we all kind of knew each other, but over the season we really created some really tight-knit bonds and all just became best friends. We all love each other so much and want everyone to do well and supported each other every step of the way,” said Hilborn. “And that showed on the field.”

Spoken like a true champion.