WHITEFISH — With the Class A soccer playoffs beginning this week, one of the top contenders for both the boys and girls is Whitefish. But that's nothing new.
"I think we're pretty used to it, it's pretty much the same," said Charlie Hyatt, a midfielder on the boys team. "Didn't perform as expected last year, but we're getting right back to it this year. And yeah, we're all excited, a little bit nervous, but it's good."
After falling short in last year's state semifinal with a younger team, the boys now have 10 seniors and are enjoying every moment of their undefeated season.
"Just the group of people, we're all out there having fun," said midfielder Ryder Elliot. "I think fun is the biggest part to the season so far. You know, if you're not having fun, we're not gonna play good."
After only giving up six goals through the teams 12-game regular season and having a goal differential of plus-51, the Bulldogs know they have a target on their back. But they’re taking it in stride.
"I think it motivates us, I think it pushes us every practice," said center back Rye Duffy. "I think it's something that's in the back of our heads all the time, that we're the team that teams want to beat. So, we got to prove that we can beat the other teams."
As for the girls, they came even closer than the boys last year, falling just short in the state championship to Billings Central. But this year the Bulldogs feel stronger.
"We're just a very stable team — like, that's the whole big thing," said goalkeeper Norah Schmidt. "I feel like I'm standing back there and I'm watching everything and I'm like, 'I don't even have to worry.' ... I have a really strong back line, midfield, and a really strong offensive line. So it's just comfortable this season."
Like the boys team, the girls have dominated both sides of the field, surrendering only 10 goals and boasting a huge plus-50 goal differential through their 12-game regular season, and one of their four seniors credits it all to the trust they’ve built.
"I think every single player on the field has full trust in all the other players," said outside back Belle Cosby. "We all love each other and we're all friends, and it's really cool because we connect just on a different level than I think we did last year."
"I really think that like this team is so connected and I think every player on this team genuinely wants it so bad," Cosby added. "And I think it's just gonna be whoever wants it the most and I think we do."
The Class A state soccer playoffs kicked off on Tuesday, Oct. 10. View updated playoff scores and pairings.