COLUMBIA FALLS — Usually when a new coach takes over a program there is an expected struggle in the transition. But that is not the case for Columbia Falls girls soccer.
In the past two seasons, Thomas Clark went from assistant coach to the top job and the team finished at or near the top of the Northern A standings. The Wildkats expect to be there again this year.
A key returning player for the Wildkats is the state's leading scorer, Maddie Robinson, who led Class A with 32 goals a year ago and also set the state assist record with 21 assists last season. She said Thomas has had a significant impact on her.
"It has honestly been so great for all of us he is very good with coaching girls and he makes us feel like a family all of the time," Robinson said.
"We just play really, really good soccer," Clark added. "I think the girls are noticing it. We kind of play a different brand, we are starting to establish our identity. In the past we had the best athletes in the state and maybe we are a little raw as soccer players. And this year I think we are getting that ideal combination where I still think we have the best athletes, now I think we have the best soccer players in the state too."
In Thomas’s first year as a head coach in 2019, they finished first in their conference, and last season they finished second in their conference before getting eliminated in the semifinals both seasons. So the bar is high this year for these Wildkats.
"Every year a coach is going to have aspirations to do something really great, that is why we coach, that is why the kids play the game," Clark said. "But I would be lying if I said this was not a special group that can really make some noise and potentially do something really special this year."
"Obviously we are looking to go all the way this year as we do ever year but this year I think we really have a shot at it and we are all trying to work toward it," added Robinson.