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State AA soccer: Missoula Hellgate girls, Billings West boys reach promised land; Bozeman teams march on

HELLGATE CELLY.jpg
Posted at 10:14 PM, Oct 24, 2023

The state championship matches are set in the Class AA boys and girls soccer playoffs. Missoula Hellgate's girls and Billings West's boys achieved long-awaited semifinal wins while Bozeman High's boys and girls also advanced.

West put a halt to Missoula Hellgate's run of boys dominance Tuesday with a 1-0 road win in semifinals, sending the Golden Bears on to Saturday's state championship match where they will travel to play Bozeman High, which earned a 3-2 victory over crosstown foe Bozeman Gallatin in penalty kicks in the other semi.

In Tuesday's girls semifinals, Bozeman shut out Missoula Sentinel 2-0 to advance to the title round. The Hawks will take on Missoula Hellgate, which beat Bozeman Gallatin 1-0 to advance to the championship match for the first time in program history.

BOYS

Bozeman 3, Bozeman Gallatin 2

BOZEMAN — In a crosstown semifinal battle, Bozeman fought back to score equalizing goals in both regulation and overtime and then outlasted Gallatin in a penalty-kick round to advance to the title match.

Ezekiel Leighton put Gallatin on top 2-1 in the first overtime but Bozeman answered with a goal by Finn McGeehan and the match remained a stalemate through the second OT period.

Bozeman downs crosstown foe Gallatin in penalty kicks to advance to state championship

In regulation, Oliver Boettcher gave Gallatin the lead but Rowan Musselman tied the game for Bozeman High with time winding down, sending the match into OT.

Bozeman got PK goals from Musselman, Cameron Mansfield, Ronan Schultz and Leonard Spaulding while keeper Oliver Olsen made two key saves. On Saturday the Hawks will be playing to win their first championship since 2018.

Billings West 1, Missoula Hellgate 0

MISSOULA — Tegan Bowen's goal on a penalty kick in the 11th minute combined with goalkeeper Brennen Ellis' stout effort helped West knock off defending state champion Hellgate in the semis.

Billings West boys soccer ends Missoula Hellgate's title run

West, the No. 4 seed from the Eastern conference, won its second consecutive thriller to advance to the championship match. The Bears topped Kalispell Glacier in a marathon penalty-kick round 9-8 in the quarterfinals on Friday, as Aidan Benton's PK tally served as the winner.

The Bears are making their first trip to the title match since 2009 and are seeking their third title. The Knights were denied a 10th straight trip to the championship round and shot at their fifth consecutive crown.

GIRLS

Missoula Hellgate 1, Bozeman Gallatin 0

MISSOULA — Hellgate made history in the semifinals with a victory over Gallatin and will play for the state championship for the first time in program history.

Missoula Hellgate girls soccer makes history with trip to title match

The game was scoreless at halftime, but Hellgate found the net in the 53rd minute when Elly Reed scored on a second-chance shot in the box to give the Knights a 1-0 advantage after a free kick from Chloe Anderson. Hellgate then kept the Raptors scoreless for the remainder of the game to earn a long-awaited victory on a rainy night.

Goalkeeper Nova Gardner have five saves for the Knights — including a pair of big ones down the stretch to preserve the win — who will now travel to play Bozeman for the girls championship on Saturday.

Bozeman 2, Missoula Sentinel 0

BOZEMAN — Lauren Barckholtz and Claire Ulman each scored goals and Bozeman marched on to the girls championship match with a semifinal victory over Sentinel.

Bozeman girls soccer shuts out Sentinel 2-0, advances to state championship

Barckholtz notched the game's first goal with an athletic right-footed kick inside the goal box to put the Hawks ahead 1-0. Ulman followed later with the second marker, knocking down a corner kick and booting the ball into the net just under the crossbar for a two-goal lead.

Bozeman High is makings its first trip to the Class AA girls title match for the first time since 2017 and is seeking its first championship since 2016. The Hawks have won six state titles in program history.