Monday, November 30, 2020

Whitefish takes overdog status into first round

Daily Inter Lake | October 16, 2020 9:57 PM

The Whitefish soccer teams head to Smith Fields today with wins on their minds and quite possibly brooms in their hands.

The forecast calls for snow overnight.

“We had to do this last year,” John Lacey, coach of the Bulldog boys, said. “Semifinals, we got snow. We had to be out there with brooms before our game.

“The call has already gone out to people.”

Neither snow nor much else has slowed the Whitefish boys, who battle Lone Peak at 10 a.m., before the Whitefish girls take on visiting Livingston. The Bulldogs haven’t lost since the 2017 State A championship — a span of 41 straight matches. They tied twice, including once against Columbia Falls this season.

Lone Peak, located in Big Sky, is a fledgling program. The Bighorns are 2-3-2. Evan Iskenderian has three of the five goals they’ve scored this season.

It will be a tall order to take on the two-time defending State A champs, who are 10-0-1 and boast six of the top 13 scorers in Class A.

“I know they’re just getting started, and it’s a pretty small roster,” Lacey said of the Bighorns. “But they’ve had a lot of success this year. We’re prepared for whatever kind of contest we’re going to have.”

Lacey has a healthy, confident squad led by Brandon Mendoza (19 goals), Marvin Kimera (nine) and Gabe Menicke (11). Whitefish also gets back outside back and senior co-captain Josh Gunderson from an ankle injury.

The Bulldogs aren’t feeling the pressure of the streak.

“I’d say just the opposite,” Lacey said. “They’re excited. They’re eager. They want to go out there and put out their best — they’ve worked years for this, and they’re playing well.”

Less healthy are the Whitefish girls, who are 9-0-1 heading into today’s game at noon. Head coach Roland Benedict could potentially be down three starters: Maile Vine, Lucy Lowry and Maddie Muhlfeld are fighting injuries. Forward Sofie Saurey has returned from a bad hamstring, however.

Benedict is pretty tight with Livingston coach Matt Pierson, having attended coaching camps with him. The Rangers (3-4-0) are led by freshman Maya Stenseth, who has three goals. Severn Sienkiewicz and Kodie Vondra have two each.

Emily Barron and Brooke Roberts have seven each to lead Whitefish.

“It should be a game where two teams are trying to play the right way,” Benedict said. “And not just running around.

“We’re not incredibly healthy, but we’re also not going to complain about it. We’re going to go out and work and put on a show.”