BILLINGS — After 40 minutes, it looked like the Billings Central Rams were going to cruise to another State A girls soccer semifinal win. In the end, they had to survive a Columbia Falls onslaught to get back to another championship game.
Central took a 4-1 lead into halftime Saturday at Amend Park thanks to four goals all originating from the right side of the field. Senior Lauren Dull opened the scoring just 3:15 into the game with a sharp angle shot from the right edge of the box that went over Wildcat goalkeeper Zoey Byrd.
Senior Kendall Wahl then took over the attack down the right. Three minutes after Dull's goal, Wahl drove down the right and crossed for Abby Derbyshire who volleyed home a goal to give Central a 2-0 lead. Wahl then drove into the box herself and fired past Byrd for a 3-0 lead just 20 minutes in.
Columbia Falls pulled within 3-1 as Josie Harris hit the underside of the crossbar and watched as the ball went over the line. But moments later, Wahl drove down the right again and crossed for Ava Yates who beat the defender to the ball and scored to regain a three-goal advantage.
The Wildcats were the much better team in the second half however. Hope McAtee scored early in the half to make it 4-2, and Sydney Man fired past Central keeper Olivia Tourtlotte to make it 4-3 with 18 minutes to play. Columbia Falls continued to attack but couldn't find an equalizer as Central hung on.
With the win, the Rams advance to their 7th State A championship game in the last eight years. They haven't won the title since 2018.