HELENA — Bozeman punched its ticket to the Class AA boys soccer state championship game with its second consecutive shutout of the state tournament – a 3-0 win over Helena High on Friday.
Helena had a chance to pounce on Bozeman right out of the gates when star senior forward Aidan Morris broke free from the Bozeman defense. However, his right-footed strike sailed just wide of the far post. Ultimately, Helena paid for not being able to capitalize on its opportunities.
Bozeman got the scoring started when Bergen Hill deflected a pass into the net. Will Kaiser dribbled down the right side of the field, jostling with the Helena defender the entire way. Kaiser then let a low cross loose and Hill slid to deflect the ball into the goal.
Kaiser had a hand in Bozeman’s second goal, too, again on the right side of the pitch, Kaiser seemed as if he had an impossible angle for a shot, but let loose anyhow. Somehow, he snuck the ball inside the near post to put Bozeman up 2-0 late in the first half.
Hill added a left-footed strike from the left side of the box late in the second half to boost Bozeman’s lead to 3-0. The Hawks return to the Class AA state title game for the first time since 2014, when they beat Missoula Hellgate 1-0. Hellgate has won the past three championships since its 2014 loss, and the two schools have combined to win the past seven Class AA state titles.
Beckett Arthur and Matt Baldridge each scored one goal and added an assist as three-time defending champion Missoula Hellgate punched a ticket to its fifth consecutive Class AA state championship game after defeating Billings Senior 3-0 in Friday’s semifinal. The Knights have won the past three state titles.
Arthur took advantage of a great pass from Andrew Lodmell near the 30th minute, but his first attempt rattled off the left post. The sophomore found himself in the right place at the right time, sending the rebound past four Senior defenders for a 1-0 lead.
The Knights held the one-goal advantage through halftime before Baldridge spun just outside the box and found a streaking Cole Hage who powered through a goal from straightaway. Hellgate took the 2-0 lead in the 45th minute, then added the final goal 20 minutes later. Arthur sent in a corner kick from the near side and Baldridge soared through four Bronc defenders to send a header into the goal.
Hellgate’s 3-0 victory was its eighth this season and second straight in the state tournament. The Knights chase a four-peat on Saturday afternoon against Eastern AA No. 1 seed Bozeman. The state title match is scheduled for 12:30 p.m.