Butte High’s soccer teams weren’t scheduled to have a day off from practice on Saturday. The Bulldogs earned it.
Girls’ coach Kevin Petritz and boys’ coach Eric Zahler both rewarded their teams with a surprise off day after the teams impressed the coaches during the Purple and White scrimmages on the south field of the Butte High campus.
“We’ve been battling smoke and we’ve been going hard,” Zahler said. “We’ve been going two-a-days since last Friday.”
The girls took the field first and the Purple team scored a 1-0 victory. Sophomore Allison Collins scored the lone goal of the game.
There was no celebration by the purple after the game, tough. Several players switched off between teams throughout the game.
“I saw some good things,” Petritz said.
Two very good things, or players, that Petritz saw were goal keepers Meaghan Weisenfels and Payton Carver. Both are freshman.
“We got some shots off,” Petritz said. “Payton Carver made some great saves. Meaghan made a save in the first half to save a goal. The two freshmen keepers looked pretty confident in the goals.”
The Bulldogs enter the season with six freshmen and 12 seniors. One of those seniors is Mijah McLeod, a standout as a freshman and sophomore who didn’t go out for the team as a junior.
“Mijah McLeod looked dangerous. Dangerous,” Petritz said. “It’s good to have her back.”
Other seniors are Becca Schnabel, Karly Okrusch, Jessica Rosa, Ali Gonzales, Genna Gardner, Caitlin Lee, Hailey Jacksha, Hunter Fisk, Kaileigh Shutey, Mackenzie Collins and Marki Daunhauer.
The Bulldogs have two juniors — Camile McEwen and Jori Sholey — and five sophomores. Sophomores on the squad are Rylee Gonnzales, Mackenzie Schneider, Sophie Guillory, Meggie Wall and Allison Collins.
Marti Ludwick, Ally Cleverly and Lexie Kautzman are promising freshmen, along with the keepers.
“All six freshmen looked good,” Petritz said. “Jessica Rosa and Jori Sholey looked great.”
The Bulldogs will play again at the Great Falls Jamboree next Saturday.
“We’ve got some things to work on, like a lot of programs,” Petritz said. “But I think we’re ahead of where I thought we would be.”
In the boys’ game, the White team won 3-1 behind goals from sophomores Shaun Villa and Jackson Maloney and junior Oscar Kronenberger.
Junior Kyle Rauch scored the only goal for the Purple.
The fact that the Bulldogs scored a total of four goals was a welcome sight to Zahler.
“Scoring goals is a plus,” Zahler said. “It’s hard to put the ball in the back of the net. We were finishing.”
The coach said the Bulldogs will play with less errors when they have their team playing on the same side. The teams were split up randomly by the Butte High coaches for Friday’s scrimmage.
“We really divided up our core guys, too,” Zahler said. “If you get our top 11 players on the same team and we’re going to be a pretty dangerous. Communication lacked a little today. We weren’t loud enough. We’re still getting comfortable. It think that’s part of being a young team, and they’re tired.”
Like with Petritz, Zahler had a lot to be happy with.
“We had some great combination play on top. It was pretty dynamic,” Zahler said. “The back line is a little rusty. We’ll get that all cleaned up.”
Sophomore Erik Rosa and junior Brock Powell played goal keeper in the game. The two are competing for the starting spot that Zahler feels eventually will belong to Rosa. The coach said the Bulldogs will be a better team with Rosa in goal and Powell roaming the pitch.
“I want brock on the field right now. He’s pushing Erik to get better,” Zahler said. “We’re going with a competition right now and I’ll go with the best one at the end of the day. I want to get Brock on the field, but I’m not going to rush it and throw a sophomore goalie on the field. Brock is there for reassurance until we’re sure about Rosa.”
“He’s got tons of potential,” Zahler added about Rosa. “He just loves the position. He’s going to be a great one.”
Butte High has one senior on the roster, Andrew Howery. Howery sat out the scrimmage with a knee injury. The Bulldogs are planning on bringing him along slowly.
Butte High’s junior class includes Sean Staples. He was the varsity kicker for the football team the last two seasons.
“We stole Staples,” Zahler said with a laugh. “Sean is a great defender. He’s just a little rusty. I don’t think he’s played in about two or three years. And we didn’t steal him (from the football team). He changed his mind and he wanted to play soccer.”
Other juniors expected to play varsity are Zach Archibald, Eric Todd and Travis Williams. Logan Johnson, Nick Werkmeister, Caleb Cook and Brandon Quinn are sophomores expected to contribute on the varsity level.
Freshman Trevyn Roth also made the varsity roster.
After the Great Falls Jamboree, the Bulldogs will play their first conference game at Great Falls High on Sept. 3. Butte High’s first home action is Sept. 5 against Great Falls Russell.