MISSOULA — The Hellgate Knights hosted the Bozeman Hawks in a rematch of the 2018 State AA soccer championship game.
In 2019, the Knights were the ones who found the magic and came away with a 2-1 win.
It was a physical game from the start, with both defenses keeping the offenses at bay for the first 15 minutes. Hellgate's Reggie Duce broke the tie on a breakaway in the 17th minute, though, to give the Knights a 1-0 halftime lead.
In the fourth minute of the second half, Hellgate's Andrew Lodmell sent a shot into the box that was deflected off the goalkeeper's hands. Fellow Knight Marcus Anderson got a shot off and a hand ball was called on a Bozeman defender, awarding a penalty kick to the Knights.
On the penalty kick, captain Dane Becker went for the left corner. Bozeman goalie Malachi Allan got a hand on the ball but not enough to get the save and Hellgate took a 2-0 lead.
Minutes later, the Hawks responded on a corner kick. Josef Fields gathered the ball at the top of the box and found an opening to pull the Hawks within one.
In the final 20 minutes, Bozeman applied heavy pressure, but Hellgate goalie Brendan Oberg was exceptional. The Hawks made a final push toward goal in stoppage time, earning a final corner kick. Luke Price got off an insane, sideways bicycle kick that hit the right post and Hellgate cleared.
Hellgate held off the Hawks' offense for the final minutes to win their fifth title in program history.
"It feels a little different, just doing it at home is just an exception feeling. I'm super proud of these guys and happy for them," said head coach Jay Anderson. "We knew there were going to be ebbs and flows in the game. Sometimes they looked better, sometimes we looked better. Just being consistent in the back, super proud of the back line holding strong and the keeper coming up big when needed."
"It feels amazing, I mean, there's no feeling like it. Especially because we lost last year and we just feel like we deserve this and we finally got it. It's just a sense of relief that the season is over and we came out with a good win," said junior Beckett Arthur.