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City of champions: Whitefish boys and girls reveling in 2023 state soccer titles

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Posted at 3:35 PM, Nov 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-02 17:35:15-04

WHITEFISH — The Whitefish Bulldogs boys and girls soccer teams both won their respective Class A state titles last week. It's the second time both teams have won in the same year, and the first time since 2006 that they're able to call Whitefish the city of champions.

"Definitely been fun being a state champion," said junior Preston McPherson with a smile. "You can’t always say that, but it’s been nice."

McPherson was the hero for the Bulldogs as his second-half goal proved the difference and gave them a 1-0 win over Billings Central to secure the programs 10th Class A State, and he gives all the credit to one thing.

"Super-strong brotherhood," said McPherson. "Even when we were tied in that final game we never really just lost faith in each other, we just knew we'd get the goal eventually."

Goalkeeper Ethan Bourque had never played soccer until this year but wound up starting and winning a state championship, and he knows his Hollywood story is something special.

"These guys recruited me to be their goalkeeper," said Bourque. "It was an awesome experience, super fun. It was great to come out here and learn how to play soccer."

While overjoyed with their own win, the first thing the boys did on the bus ride home was watch the girls game.

"We got a streaming session just in the back of the bus cheering them on," said Bourque. "Watching the goals, super fun, high energy, just excited that they also got to experience the same thing we had."

About 30 minutes before kickoff in the girls game it was announced that the boys had won their state title and it only added fuel to the fire.

"It was really cool to know that they won," said senior Belle Cosby. "I feel like it kind of just gave us a little more, like Whitefish needs to dominate."

After losing last years state title to Billings Central, the girls went into this one with a chip on their shoulder and beat Corvallis 3-1 to win the program's third title.

"Our coach said it to us multiple times like I don't have to cultivate a belief in you guys like you guys know that you guys can win," said Cosby. "And I think that's true, I think every single person stepped on the field knowing that we had that game, and we were willing to do anything to prove that."

Fellow senior Isabelle Cooke, who scored what would eventually be the game winner late in the first half, knows it couldn’t have been a more surreal way to finish her high school career.

"Once the whistle blew it just didn't feel real, we were all just so excited I didn't know how to react," said Cooke. "Working towards that for the last four years and finally getting to that moment was just an incredible feeling."