BILLINGS - And they meet again.
Billings Central and Laurel will square off in this year's State A soccer championship after both took care of business at home in Saturday semifinal matches.
Central's top-seeded girls locked up the day's first title ticket with a 5-1 win over previously unbeaten Whitefish.
Rams' forward Abby Derbyshire lobbed a left-footed rainbow over the keeper's head just nine minutes in, then poked home another four minutes later and the Rams never looked back. Derbyshire finished with three goals.
Kendall Wahl and Ava Yates chipped in with the other two scores. Lauren Dull and Brynn Lockie delivered two assists apiece for the Rams.
Early in the second half Emma Barron, Whitefish's leading scorer, drew the Bulldogs to within 3-1, but that was the only goal her team managed.
Central avenged last year's 1-0 semifinal loss in Whitefish and admitted the memory had been a point of interest this week.
"This morning, we all talked about it and said we're not going to lose again," said Derbyshire. "We're at home field and have all the advantages on our side and we just told each other we're not going to lose. It was that — we're not losing."
Rams' defender Ava DeBourg echoed the sentiment.
"It definitely did rub us the wrong way about what happened last year, so I think we wanted to come out here and give it our all, and that's exactly what we did."
Laurel's girls had no trouble with Bigfork in Saturday's afternoon semifinal.
Mya Maack netted a hat trick in the first half and finished with four goals and two assists as the Locomotives eliminated Bigfork 8-0. Laurel, which led 5-0 at halftime, is headed for its 8th straight Class A championship match.
"We had no idea it would be this kind of game," said Maack. "Once we were up 5-0 at halftime, reality set in that we were going to the championship again, and we've got to prepare for that now."
Chloe Baumann and Ella Breen also found the net for Laurel, along with senior forward Madison Peaton who scored twice. Peaton applauds her squad's resolve after graduating eight seniors off last year's title team.
"We have a couple younger girls, we haven't played together (a lot), so it's just a new team," she said. "Learning how to play with each other is the hardest part, I think."
Class A boys soccer
Columbia Falls 1, Missoula Loyola 0
Whitefish 3, Livingston 0