WHITEFISH — The Whitefish Bulldogs girls soccer team is hosting the Class A state semifinal match this Saturday and while it’s been a battle all season long it was their win over Laurel in the quarterfinals that had to be decided by penalty kicks that secured the spot.
"This is our mantra, like I don’t care about wins. I really don’t," said Whitefish coach Roland Benedict. "In this environment with high school sports, it’s about the player, it’s about the team, it’s about teaching life, and we get to do it through the most beautiful game on the planet."
And a beautiful game it was Saturday, after ending in a 3-3 tie it took penalty kicks to separate Laurel and Whitefish, and the Bulldogs goalkeeper Norah Schmidt managed to save three to clinch the win over the Locomotives and the state's all-time leading goal scorer, Mya Maack.
"I don’t even know how to say it, or put it in words but it’s just kind of like one of those moments where like you can never really relive it," said Schmidt. "That’s honestly just like 'winning' the championship right there I guess you could say."
A feeling that kicked in a little late as Schmidt was so in the zone she didn’t even realize her final save secured the win.
"Honestly, I didn’t even know that that was the final save until I saw coach Rowland jumping up and down on the sideline," said Schmidt with a big smile. "I look up and I’m like, 'Oh,' and that was it."
Excitement that was felt by everyone else on the team as well.
"The last like four years, how much work we’ve put in and done to get to that moment," said senior center midfielder Brooke Roberts. "And just that win felt so relieving and seeing Norah save that last shot was so exciting."
But the team knows the job is far from finished.
"The mindset for the team is we have one more game," said a stern Benedict. "Take care of business, win one more game, and then you prepare for another one. There’s no celebration yet, the works still to be done."
The Bulldogs will be hosting the Hamilton Broncs this Saturday at 11 a.m. at Smith Fields as they look for their second state final appearance in three years.