BUTTE – A windy day didn’t stop Billings West as it downed Butte High 3-1 in Class AA girls soccer action.
The Bulldogs and Golden Bears tied 0-0 in the first game of the boy-girl doubleheader.
Three different players scored for the West girls, the first coming moments before halftime in the 38th minute.
Bulldogs’ keeper Payton Carver dived for the ball in a scramble and got tangled up in front of the net. West’s Aliyah Holton tapped the ball in the empty net from a couple feet out and gave her team the lead heading into halftime.
“I thought we were getting a few offensive opportunities in the first half and then they got that late goal,” Butte High head coach Riley McNabb said. “Halftime we adjusted, we went to a more offensive look and we just didn’t get the looks we wanted to.”
West was hit with a red card in the first half and played with just nine players in the second. Despite the disadvantage West still managed to rack up 12 shots over the final 40 minutes of play. Carver was kept busy and the junior keeper made seven saves on the day.
The Golden Bears had a significant advantage in possession in both halves and came out extremely aggressive in the second. They made crisp passes, constantly worked the ball down the field and Butte didn’t seem to have much of an answer.
Madison Gosch launched a chip shot in the 58th minute to break the game open after she found herself open directly in front of the goal. Shooting from just outside the penalty box, she launched the ball high in the air and it found its way to the back of the net, just above Carver’s outstretched hands.
“We just talked to them at half about positional responsibility, you need to be where the pass is going to be,” West head coach Casey Marlenee said. “We held our attacking mid more and just said, ‘you know what, these are where your spots are and you’re not attacking in with the forward anymore, anything that comes in the middle is yours.’”
Butte got on the board in the 76th minute when Marti Ludwick took a nice pass from Rylee Gonzales and sent it past Golden Bears keeper Kiara Stiles.
It was just the second goal Butte High has scored this season and McNabb was proud to see his team get one in net. The Bulldogs had a few other opportunities off some nice counters throughout the game, but we’re quite able to finish the job.
Butte is a young team with just two seniors on the squad and as the season winds down, there’s a very simple goal for the team.
“I just hope we can get another win for Rylee (Gonzales), she’s the only senior that can play right now,” Ludwick said. “That would be a huge positive for us.”
Allison Collins, Butte’s other senior, tore her ACL earlier in the season.
The draw in the boy’s game was hardly for lack of trying by either squad. West had 11 shots on goal during the game while Butte had seven.
Nick Werkmeister had a chance to tie the game for Butte after a West yellow card, but the penalty kick went high.
“Our back line for the boys really stepped up today and had a huge game, shutting out West,” McNabb said. “They had four goals on us last time, so to shut them out, the No. 3 team in the state, it was a huge win for them.”
The Butte girls are now 1-10 on the season, while the boys’ squad moves to 4-5-2.