By COLIN GAISER
The Daily Inter Lake
For the second consecutive day, the Flathead boys lost at home to a talented Helena team.
But once again, Flathead coach Zach Brenneman was not fazed by a lopsided final score.
“The score did not reflect the play on the field and the quality of play that we put on the field,” Brenneman said. “That was yesterday, too.”
The Braves (6-6 overall, 4-6 Western AA) battled for 80 minutes, but some defensive breakdowns and bad luck gave Helena High a 5-0 Western AA victory at Kidsport Complex on Saturday.
Helena Capital beat Flathead 4-1 on Friday.
Helena High (9-2-2, 8-2-1) found the net in the sixth minute. Bengals goalkeeper Dylan Maharg corralled a strike by Flathead senior Colter Goss, then sent the ball forward for a swift counter attack that caught the Braves’ defense off-guard and allowed Helena’s Treven Maharg to score easily.
Brenneman said he had to adjust his formation because of injuries and a yellow-card suspension for junior midfielder Eric Gardner.
“We were playing with a back line that hadn’t played together a lot, so there were definitely some communication and chemistry issues that usually don’t come up,” he said.
The Braves nearly equalized in the eighth minute when junior AJ Apple pounded a header off the crossbar from six yards out, and Flathead had multiple attempts on goal as Flathead outplayed the Bengals for much of the half.
But Helena’s Ben Ries-Roncalli converted a penalty kick in the 26th minute to shift the mommentum back in the visitor’s favor.
Then two late first-half goals — including an own goal from an unlucky ricochet off a Flathead defender — put the game out of reach.
The Braves pressed and played with urgency in the second half, but had few open looks at the goal. They finished with eight shots on goal to Helena’s 11.
“We did a great job moving the ball and possessing, especially in the middle of the field,” Brenneman said.
“I thought we got the ball outside really well and used our wings, and that helped us create some chances.”
But to find the back of the net, Brenneman said his team needs to stay composed in the final third and look for one more pass instead of taking shots from distance.
“It’s about looking for that last pass that nobody’s expecting you to make because everyone on the field is expecting you to shoot the ball,” Brenneman said.
Flathead looks to finish the regular season strong when it visits Missoula Sentinel on Tuesday and hosts undefeated Missoula Hellgate on Thursday.
Flathead 0 0 — 0
Helena 4 1 — 5
H – Treven Maharg, 5:40
H – Ben Ries-Roncalli (penalty kick), 26:06
H – Own goal, 36:10
H – Caven Wade (Russell Wells), 37:00
H – Wells, 69:10
Shots on goal – Flathead 8, Helena 11; Corner kicks – Flathead 3, Helena 2; Keeper saves – Flathead 6 (Max Warnell), Helena 6 (Dylan Maharg); Fouls – Flathead 13, Helena 10.
Helena Capital 3, Glacier 1
Two second-half goals lifted Helena Capital over the Wolfpack in a tightly contested Western AA match at Glacier High School.
Aidan Adamek scored for Capital (7-4-2, 5-4-2) early in the first half, but Glacier (3-9, 2-8) responded minutes later. Following some strong link-up play in the midfield, junior Micah Heil played a short cross to senior Connor Griffin, who found the back of the net.
But that was all the scoring the Wolfpack could muster.
“We had so many looks, but we just weren’t able to finish,” Glacier coach Ryan Billiet said.
Capital took advantage of “a couple of mistakes” in the second half, Billiet said, to score the winning goals.
Ryan Quinn scored for the Bruins in the 46th minute and Caleb Hoxie sealed the win with a 78th-minute goal.
Glacier had seven shots on goal to Capital’s six.
Billiet is happy with the Wolfpack’s recent play and its ability to compete with a talented team like Capital, which gave undefeated Missoula Hellgate its first and only tie.
“We’ve gotten better every game,” Billiet said. “We’re matching up against all these teams.”
Glacier has a tough test at Missoula Hellgate on Tuesday and finishes the regular season hosting Missoula Sentinel on Thursday.
Glacier 1 0 — 1
Capital 1 2 — 3
C – Aidan Adamek, 8:00
G – Connor Griffin (Micah Heil), 10:00
C – Ryan Quinn, 46:00
C – Caleb Hoxie, 78:00
Shots on goal - Glacier 7, Capital 6; Corner kicks – Glacier 6, Capital 2; Keeper saves - Glacier 4, Capital 4; Fouls – Glacier 10, Capital 5.
Flathead 2, Helena 1
The Flathead girls outlasted Helena High to earn a critical Western AA victory.
Senior Shayenn Thompson scored for the Bravettes (4-7-1, 4-5-1) in the 34th minute on an assist from Chloe Nadeau, giving Flathead a 1-0 lead over the Bengals (4-5-3, 3-5-3) at halftime.
In the 67th minute, sophomore Mathilde Burgaard scored on an assist from Skyleigh Thompson to extend Flathead’s advantage. But Helena’s Else Grebenc found the net two minutes later, setting up a tense final 10 minutes.
The Bengals pressed hard in search of an equalizing goal. However, Flathead’s defense held strong, and goalkeeper Aaris Hill was composed while snuffing out Helena’s few scoring chances.
The victory gives Flathead a one-point cushion over Helena in the standings. The Bravettes look to secure a home playoff game in their remaining matches at Missoula Sentinel on Tuesday and home versus Missoula Hellgate on Thursday.
Flathead 1 1 – 2
Helena 0 1 – 2
F – Shayenn Thompson (Chloe Nadeau), 34:02
F - Mathilde Burgaard (Skyleigh Thompsom), 67:07
H – Else Grebenc, 69:20
Shots on goal – Flathead 9, Helena 7; Corner kicks – Flathead 6, Helena N/A; Keeper saves – Flathead 6 (Aaris Hills), Helena N/A; Fouls – Flathead 12, Helena 6
Helena Capital 3, Glacier 2
The Bruins needed a second-half surge to defeat the Wolfpack in Western AA play.
Glacier (1-10-1, 1-9) opened the scoring in the 15th minute on a goal from sophomore Kenzie Williams. Sophomore Madison Becker had the assist.
The Wolfpack held onto a 1-0 lead until the 63rd minute, when Paris Prissel scored for the Bruins (4-7-2, 4-6-1). Ellie Stiffler continued Capital’s rally with back-to-back goals in the 74th and 76th minutes.
Glacier countered a minute later with a goal from sophomore Emily Cleveland, assisted by sophomore Taylor Brisendine, but the clock ran out on a potential comeback.
Still, Glacier coach Brenden Byrd was proud of his team’s effort. He said it was the best 80 minutes of soccer the team had put together, especially the morning after Friday evening’s 4-3 defeat to Helena High.
“They were not gonna give up today,” Byrd said.
Glacier is locked into seventh place in Western AA and will play the sixth-place team in a playoff game. Glacier finishes the regular season visiting Missoula Hellgate on Tuesday before hosting Missoula Sentinel on Thursday.
“I’m pretty sure no one wants to play us in the playoffs,” Byrd said.
Glacier 1 1 — 2
Capital 0 3 — 3
G – Kenzie Williams (Madison Becker), 15:00
H – Paris Prissel (Ellie Stiffler), 63:00
H – Stiffler (Kinzi Adams), 74:00
H – Stiffler, 76:00
G – Emily Cleveland (Taylor Brisendine), 77:00
Shots on goal – Glacier 11, Capital 10; Corner kicks – Glacier 8, Capital 3; Keeper saves – Glacier 8 (Sophie Smith, Ellie Keller), Capital 7 (Rachel Kosena); Fouls – Glacier 5, Capital 4