BILLINGS – For the fourth consecutive season, Billings Central and Laurel will meet in the girls Class A soccer state championship. This marks the 10th consecutive season that one of the two teams will play for the title. Billings Central beat Whitefish 3-0 and Laurel beat Belgrade 1-0.
It was not easy for either team. Billings Central’s high-scoring offense was held scoreless for the first 31 minutes, until Zoie Althoff found Solei Elletson with a perfect cross and the freshman found the back of the net to make it 1-0.
That 1-0 score carried into halftime, but the great teams know how to storm out of the gates. The Rams did just that. Just seconds into the second half, Althoff had a run at the goal. Her shot was saved by Sami Galbraith, but she could not corral it and the rebound came right to junior Morgan Ferestad. Ferestad, the state’s leading goal scorer, deposited it into the empty net for a two-goal lead.
Central stayed on the attack and looked for the dagger. That dagger came in the 62nd minute when the duo of Althoff and Ferestad connected once again. Althoff found Ferestad in the box, the star settled it, spun around her defender and sent it home with the side of her right foot.
Whitefish never threatened after that as Central cruised into the state title game.
It was more difficult for Laurel. The Lady Locomotives and Belgrade played a scoreless game, despite numerous chances for the Locos to find the net.
That tie remained until stoppage time when Maeson Cotter stepped up for a free kick. Cotter struck a bullet with her right foot, sent it over the wall and right into the back of the net for the thrilling 1-0 victory.
Central and Laurel will meet in the championship game and it will represent their third matchup this season. The two teams split the season series with each team winning on its home field.
Central entered as the No. 1 seed in the Class A tournament and has home-field advantage in the title game.
The Class A girls state championship game is scheduled for next Saturday at Wendy’s Field on the campus of Rocky Mountain College.