BILLINGS — Junior Preston McPherson put 10 Whitefish seniors on his back Saturday, scoring a second-half goal to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 win over Billings Central in the Class A state championship game. The win finishes a perfect season for the Bulldogs at 15-0-0.
The teams were scoreless after a physical first half. The best chances came off multiple direct free kicks from Central sophomore Bowman Seitz, but none could find the back of the net.
McPherson almost broke the tie early in the second half when Ryder Elliott played him into the Central box, but Rams goalkeeper Logan Hutzenbiler came rushing out to make a diving save. Later in the 2nd, Central's Luke Pankratz directed a ball towards the Whitefish net off a cross, but Bulldogs' keeper Ethan Bourque made a save.
Moments later, Bourque punted a long ball that McPherson got on the end of, beat two Central defenders and fired from just inside the box to beat Hutzenbiler and put Whitefish up 1-0. Bourque had to make several saves down the stretch to preserve the win, but when the final whistle sounded, the Bulldogs had recorded their third straight playoff shutout.
"It's great to send the seniors out because they've all been very influential in the development of me and all my other non-senior players," McPherson said after the win.
"Everybody wants a moment like that, and I'm glad he got it because I want him to build on it," added Whitefish manager John Lacey. "But all 47 boys that have been in our program this year contributed to this. I'm proud of everybody. It was a great win. What a great day for soccer."
Whitefish has now won 10 boys Class A soccer titles, the most in Montana history. The loss was Central's first of the year, as they finish 11-1-3.