Columbia Falls - The long bus trips to western Montana paid off for Laurel's soccer teams with semifinal wins at Frenchtown and Columbia Falls Friday afternoon.
Laurel's girls punched their ticket to a sixth straight Class A state championship match with a 3-1 road win, avenging their 2-1 regular season loss to the Wildcats.
Allie Shovar put Laurel on the board early scoring off of a corner kick. Gracey Willis found the net minutes later for a 2-0 lead. Columbia Falls answered off a corner kick just before half. Laurel freshman Mya Maack tacked on the insurance goal with about 10 minutes remaining.
The Wildcats, seeded No. 1 in their half of the state, were the only non-conference team to beat Laurel this season. In that match, Class A's leading scorer Josie Windauer connected on both goals, including a free kick deflection on the final play.
The Locomotives will play Saturday's semifinal winner between Billings Central and Whitefish in next week's state title showdown. Laurel and Billings Central have combined to win the last 11 girls Class A state titles with Laurel winning in 2014 and 2017. The Rams and Locomotives and met in the last four championship matches.
Laurel's boys will play in their first State A championship match.
In a limited amount of information obtained by MTN Sports, the Locomotives trailed 1-0 at Frenchtown heading into halftime, then forced overtime with a goal midway through the second half.
After a pair of scoreless overtime periods, their semifinal was decided in a shootout where Laurel's boys prevailed.
The Locomotives recently won their first Eastern A crown and will face Saturday's winner between Billings Central and Whitefish.