MISSOULA — They will have to wait one extra day, but the Kalispell Glacier girls soccer team is ready for their chance at the Class AA state title.
Glacier will travel to Helena on Thursday to take on the Bengals in the state championship game. For the Wolfpack, it will be their first-ever appearance in the title game as a program.
"The girls have been living on Cloud Nine," eighth-year Glacier girls soccer coach Brenden Byrd said. "A lot of these girls haven't been in a big, championship match. They're extremely excited to be here, but they also have that mindset of unfinished business.
"Some people just think that we're just happy getting here, but this group of girls is here to fight for a state championship."
That unfinished business stems from the 2019 season when the Wolfpack were ousted in the semifinal round by eventual state champion Billings West.
"I had players who as soon as the referee blew their whistle they started crying," Byrd said about the win over Bozeman in the semifinals. "They were just so emotionally excited to finally break through. Last year we lost in the semifinals. The girls are so excited to break through to this next level. It was all about celebration with this team."
Glacier is as well-rounded as a soccer team can get. Senior Madison Becker leads the Wolfpack with 12 total goals and 11 assists including the postseason. Becker led the AA in assists during the regular season with 10.
So the ball gets spread around to multiple threats offensively, and, including Becker, nine Glacier players have scored this season. Freshman Reagan Brisendine has been on fire in the postseason, scoring four goals for the Wolfpack to up her season total to 10, including the game winner against Bozeman.
Senior Emily Cleveland also scored against Bozeman and has tallied seven goals and nine assists, including playoffs, this season. Byrd said Glacier likes to push the attack offensively while its defense holds strong until the offense can cash in a goal.
Helena is an opponent Glacier is plenty familiar with. Since Class AA did conference play only, the Wolfpack saw the Bengals twice this season. Helena, the top seed in the Western AA, beat second-seeded Glacier twice, 2-0 and 3-0.
But all of that is thrown out of the window on Thursday when the two teams meet. The game was originally scheduled for Wednesday but was moved back one day because the field wasn't ready. Kickoff is still slated for 3 p.m. in Helena at Siebel Fields.
To make history as the first Wolfpack squad to make it to the title game is a big accomplishment for Byrd and his team.
"It's amazing and really it's the girls," Byrd said. "This senior group of girls, all nine of them, have been with me all four years that they've been here. They knew that they had to put in the work to get it done and nothing was going to be given to them, and so this means the world to them and they want to go out with this type of win at Glacier.
"Every single girl on this team will play for each other. They'll give up their position for somebody else to do their position better. They're happy to step on the field and compete at any time and I think they're one big family, they want to do it for each other."