Whitefish aims for soccer title

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It’s been two years since anyone’s beaten the Whitefish Bulldogs boys soccer team.

The Bulldogs’ last loss was in the Class A state final in 2017 to Belgrade and they haven’t lost a game since.

That’s 29 straight games, if you’re keeping count. That’s the longest winning streak in Montana high school boys soccer history.

Add to that the 2018 state championship. The 14-0 Bulldogs will try to defend that title against Laurel at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Whitefish coach John Lacey said the team that lost in the 2017 final was a young one. But many of those players are still around and there are 10 of 11 starters back from the 2018 team. They’re seasoned. They’re ready.

You can trace the path to their current successes back to that Belgrade game.

There’s a bit of irony in the fact that it’s coming down to Whitefish and Laurel to determine the state championship this time, since Whitefish had to beat Laurel in a shootout to get to the final in 2017.

”It goes back to that playoff run,” Lacey said. “I know that certainly this group of players they’ve seen this time coming and they’ve worked pretty hard for it.”

The players set goals for themselves and reached them, Lacey said. There’s one thing left to do.

“They want this game to go out the way they’ve visualized,” Lacey said. “It’s a big game, not just for the

program. They set these goals and they knew what they were capable of.”

It’s a fun time to be a part of Whitefish soccer, Lacey said. What’s better than two good teams battling it out for a state title?

“I think it will be that,” he said.

While it might seem a coronation of sorts for this Whitefish team, Lacey doesn’t expect Laurel will make it easy.

Laurel is a senior-heavy team, “a little bigger, faster, stronger,” Lacey said.

Whitefish played Laurel Sept. 13 and won 6-0.

“Excited about being on their home turf in front of their fans,” Lacey said. “I think it’s going to be a pretty fun game.”

The Bulldogs beat Stevensville 10-2 in the first round and mounted an 11-0 shut out Billings Central in the semifinal. Now it’s all about getting past Laurel on their home turf.

“They know how special the game is,” Lacey said. “I think they’re going to give it their best.”

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