BUTTE – Bozeman’s Zack Springer had four goals — including a hat trick in the second half — as the Hawks’ soccer team took down Butte 8-1 in the final game of the regular season for both teams.
The Bulldogs also fell in the girl’s game of the doubleheader, 4-0.
“It feels pretty good,” Springer said of his eight point afternoon. “But I think our team should feel good too. We knew Butte was a good team. We had a similar result in Bozeman, but the score doesn’t show good of a team they are. They’re physical and this was a good warmup for state.”
Bozeman wasted no time in getting on the board. Larkin Lane sent in a shot in the third minute off a pass from Jack Benson to get the Hawks on the board first.
Lane proceeded to have an assist on each of the next three Bozeman goals and was dominate throughout the game. The Hawks were strong in one versus one situations throughout the afternoon and Butte struggled to stop their attacks.
Head Bozeman coach Hunter Terry – a Butte High alum and former Bulldog soccer coach – still felt they could do even better despite the strong first half.
“The hardest thing for us was to unbalance their back line,” Terry said. “They were super organized and I was trying everything to really counter that. I don’t think we every really were able to counter their outside line and that was tough for us.”
Bozeman added another goal moments before halftime to take a 5-0 lead into the break.
The second half was more of the same for Butte, allowing goals to Springer in the 48th and 51st minutes. Butte coach Riley McNabb adjusted a few things at halftime and felt that overall they played much better over the final 40 minutes of the game. McNabb sacrificed a bit of the Bulldogs’ offense in the second half – which is something he said he doesn’t really like to do – but it worked, for the most part.
Butte got on the board in the 54th minute when Justin McNabb scored on a breakaway.
“Bozeman’s just a great team. They’re No. 2 in the state right now and they came out offensive,” Riley McNabb said. “I don’t think our boys have ever seen a 3-5-2 formation before and playing against that new formation took them by a little bit of surprise.
“We learned from that and we’ll move on.”
McNabb was also proud of the effort the girls varsity team displayed against the Hawks.
Butte held Bozeman scoreless for a long portion of the second half after giving up three goals in the 14th, 29th, and 31st minutes. The Bulldogs threatened to score several times and had shots on goal against arguably the best squad in the state.
“To go a whole half, outside of that counter in the corner late in the game, and not give up a goal is huge for us,” McNabb said. “It was everything we could have asked them to do. The girls were there, they had some opportunities.”
Kylee Jones had a goal and two assists for the Hawks, who will be the top seeded team at the state tournament. The Butte girls will have to win two play-in games in order to make the tournament, while the Bulldog boys will need just one win.
The girls will play at Great Falls next week, while it’s still up in the air as to whether the boys will be home or away in their play-in game. If the Great Falls-CMR boys win against Billings Skyview, Butte will make the trip to Great Falls.