High School Sports


Helena High girls balance pressure, fatigue ahead of State AA soccer championship

Posted at 10:12 AM, Oct 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-27 17:04:14-04

(Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the championship game being moved to Thursday, Oct. 29)

HELENA -- The Helena High girls soccer team is in it to win it. The Bengals are set to take on the Kalispell Glacier Wolfpack on Thursday for the Class AA girls soccer state title.

The Bengals come into the matchup as state title winners in 2002, 2015 and 2017. Though when you look at the banner showcasing their titles, the banner also reads a distinct 2018. Helena High head coach Mike Meloy is hoping they’ll bring home their third piece of hardware in six years so they can make some changes to that banner.

"If that needed to come down and be changed, we might as well do it and put 2020 there," Meloy said with a chuckle. "That's what we're going to try to do."

Joking aside, Meloy said this year's team isn't really drawing on past titles because of how young this team is. He's happy to see that they're blazing their own trail.

"This team is still relatively young. We've been successful with freshmen, sophomores and juniors, and our seniors have been great, but, overall, it's a younger team and they really don't have the playoff experience that is represented on that banner up there," said Meloy. "These guys are doing this -- they're doing -- their success is all their own."

The success the Bengals have had during these playoffs has not come easy. The Bengals' past two matches ended in shootouts. Though they prevailed, some Bengals are thrilled the season finale was pushed back from last Saturday to Thursday due to impending weather.

"I'm kind of happy it got moved," said Elsa Grebenc. "The last two games have been 100 minutes plus, and it's just been a toll on everyone's bodies. So it's nice to have a bigger break."

As the Bengals inch closer to the first whistle in their quest for a state title, they know they have to stay focused during a nerve-racking time.

“We just got to focus in practice and just constantly think about it. It's really nerve-racking, but we made it this far. We came here to win,” said Quinn Benedetti.

Though sometimes that’s easier said than done.

“I try to visualize doing stuff right, but I don't know -- for me, you just sort of lay like awake at night and picture what's going to happen. But I don't know, it's just stressful,” said Grebenc.

According to Meloy, that stress has even gotten to him.

"Look at my hair, you see the white hairs in there? That all happened just these last two games," Meloy laughed as he pointed to his full head of white hair.

The Bengals and the Wolfpack will square off for the Class AA title Thursday at Siebel Fields in Helena at 3 p.m.