MISSOULA – The No. 3 seeds from the Western AA captured tickets to the state soccer tournament on Thursday, but it took every second to beat the visiting No. 6 seeds.
The Missoula Sentinel boys started a doubleheader with a goal in the final minutes to beat Kalispell Glacier, 3-2. Immediately afterward, the Sentinel girls scored in the last seconds to take down Helena Capital, 2-1.
The boys match went to halftime tied 1-1. Glacier struck first to take a lead early in the second half. Then nearly 15 minutes later, a long free kick bounced to the feet of Noah McNelis. He finished in the corner to bring Sentinel back into a tie.
With the season on the line, the match saw its fair share of physical play and chippy attitudes. Glacier was given three yellow cards in the second half, and another Wolfpack player was ejected with a red card for yelling at an official.
With a man advantage, Sentinel went on the attack in the final minutes. Jake Larson played the hero. The junior defenseman soared for a header off a corner kick that Glacier couldn’t clear before it found the back of the net. Sentinel held on over the final moments to win and advance.
The third-seeded Sentinel girls jumped to a 1-0 lead in the first half, but sixth-seeded Capital tied the game back up before halftime.
Neither team created many good scoring chances in a back-and-forth second half. Then in the final minutes, a Capital player was sent off with a red card after a rough foul near midfield.
The game remained 1-1 until the final moments. Sentinel rolled a wide pass to Kathleen Coyler in space. She hit a perfect cross over the keeper and right to to Aisley Allen nearly standing on the goal line. The junior easily finished to give Sentinel the win, 2-1.
Both Sentinel teams now advance to the state tournament. They’ll both be No. 3 seeds in the Class AA bracket, which kicks off in Helena on Oct. 25.