HELENA – Kolten Unrein blocked the first two Missoula Sentinel kicks in a shootout, as Billings Senior held off the Spartans in dramatic fashion, winning 4-1 in the shootout after ending regulation tied at 3-3. The game was the final in the opening round of the Class AA state boys soccer tournament.
Unrein’s heroics seemed unlikely 30 minutes prior, as Missoula Sentinel took a 2-0 lead in the first half. Jake Larson scored on a penalty kick, then drilled a shot from the right side to give the Spartans the two-goal advantage.
Senior trimmed the lead to 2-1, then entered desperation mode in the final minutes of regulation. With Sentinel attempting to hold possession and drain the clock, the Broncs swiftly regained possession and sprinted upfield looking for the tying goal. Belina Neufeld had a good look from the left side, but a Sentinel penalty sent the senior midfielder for a penalty kick with under a minute to play.
Neufeld drilled the PK, sending the game to overtime.
In the first 10-minute period, Caleb Borgstrom broke ahead of the Spartans’ defense, connecting from the right side to give Senior a 3-2 lead. That advantage lasted into the second overtime, but Sentinel’s Cole Reimer was given a free kick just outside the box, an attempt he deflected off a Broncs defender and into the left side of the net.
Then came Unrein.
The Broncs’ senior keeper watched as Neufeld netted the first attempt in the shootout, then calmly stepped between the posts and stopped Reimer’s shot. After Sam George gave Senior a 2-0 lead, Unrein denied Sam Olsen on the ensuing Sentinel shot.
Borgstrom’s successful kick gave Senior a 3-0 lead after three attempts, putting pressure on the Spartans’ Larson, who converted to keep Sentinel’s hopes alive. But Dax Wilson made the next kick for Senior to clinch the win.
Billings Senior will face three-time defending state champion Missoula Hellgate in Friday’s semifinals. Missoula Sentinel meets Billings Skyview in loser-out action.
PHOTOS: DAY 1 AT STATE AA SOCCER
MISSOULA HELLGATE 4, BILLINGS SKYVIEW 0
Missoula Hellgate built a 1-0 lead at halftime on a Becket Arthur goal, then tacked on three more scores in the second half en route to a 4-0 victory in the opening round of the Class AA state tournament.
Matt Baldridge, the two-time defending Gatorade player of the year, scored one goal and assisted on two more as the Knights advanced to the semifinals for the sixth consecutive year.
Marcus Anderson and Dane Becker scored for the Knights, extending the lead to 3-0, before Baldridge hit the final goal of the game. Cole Hage had two assists in the win.
Missoula Hellgate faces Billings Senior Friday at 1:30 p.m. in the semifinal. Skyview drops to the loser-out portion of the bracket, facing Missoula Sentinel at 11 a.m.
The high-powered offense of the Bozeman Hawks was on display Thursday in the opening round of the State AA soccer tournament. Bozeman, which scored 78 goals in the regular season, shut out Helena Capital 6-0, advancing to Friday’s semifinal round.
Bozeman threatened the 2015 Billings Senior record of 87 goals in a season. The Hawks have allowed only three goals in 2018, which would be No. 3 all-time, according to www.WallSoccer.net.
Jack Bentson scored in the first five minutes for the Hawks, then Ted Scott assisted Zach Springer two minutes later to give Bozeman a 2-0 lead. Helena Capital’s defense settled in during the next half hour, setting up a 2-0 Bozeman advantage at half time.
But the Hawks found a rhythm in the middle portion of the second half, scoring the final four goals in a 10-minute span. Sprinter netted his second in the 59th minute, then Bergen Hill gave Bozeman a 4-0 lead a minute later.
Springer completed a hat trick in the 63rd minute, just four minutes after his first score of the second half. Jackson Coles rounded out the scoring with a goal in the 69th minute.
Helena Capital had opportunities, as the Bruins took good shots on goal. But Bozeman keeper Jovial Milich secured the shutout for the Hawks.
Bozeman will meet host-team Helena High in Friday’s semifinals, while Capital falls to loser-out play against Billings West.
HELENA HIGH 3, BILLINGS WEST 2
Aidan Morris and Caven Wade scored goals in the first 11 minutes as host-team Helena High held off Billings West 3-2 in the first round of the Class AA state soccer tournament.
Morris, one of three senior captains for Carl Straub’s Bengals, dribbled out of a jam against three West defenders, then found the back of the net with a soft touch from his right foot. Wade extended the lead to two goals three minutes later, taking advantage of West’s keeper being outside the box, leading way to an easy touch goal and 2-0 lead.
But West’s Angel Garcia scored in the final seconds of the first half, sending a 15-yard shot past four Helena High defenders, bending into the top-left portion of the goal. Billings West trailed 2-1 at halftime.
Wyatt Johnson gave Helena High a 3-1 lead in the 52nd minute and the Bengals’ defense did the rest, though Riley Krueger-Harding’s goal in the last two minutes brought West to within the 3-2 deficit.
Helena High meets top-ranked Bozeman in the semifinals, a 1:30 p.m. scheduled start, while Billings West faces Capital at 11 a.m. in the loser-out portion of the bracket.