Bison top Bulldog girls 2-0 in playoff match

Bison top Bulldog girls 2-0 in playoff match

GREAT FALLS — Tuesday was another day of missed opportunities for the Butte High girls’ soccer team, as the Bulldogs saw their season come to an end with a 2-0 loss to Great Falls High.

The match was part of the Eastern AA playoffs. The Bison (2-11-2 overall, 2-10-1 Eastern AA) advance to take on Billings Senior at 1 p.m. Friday in Billings, while the Bulldogs (1-12) look to next year.

“We played well,” Butte High coach Riley McNabb said of his girls. “We started off really fast and had a couple of good opportunities at the goal. We owned most of the possessions. We just couldn’t find the back of the net. We couldn’t find that last pass — the assist pass.”

Great Falls High took a 1-0 lead in the 20th minute of the match when Hannah Marts found the back of the net off of an assist by Macie McElhenney.

The game stayed at 1-0 until the 78th minute when Taylor Newton scored an unassisted goal to seal the victory.

The final goal came as the Bulldogs went all-out to score a goal, sacrificing defense.

Great Falls High coach Kevin Petritz, the former head coach of the Butte High girls, said the win was bitter-sweet.

“It’s a weird feeling,” Petritz said after his team took the season series 2-1 against the Bulldogs. “I’m very happy for my kids. I’ll be a lot happier if we go and beat Senior.”

Petritz said his team is playing well as of late. Great Falls High held Billings Skyview scoreless for the second half in a 2-0 loss, then battled to a scoreless tie against Billings West.

“We haven’t given up a goal in 200 minutes,” Petritz said.

The match closes the prep soccer career for Butte High’s lone senior in uniform, Rylee Gonzales. (Senior Allison Collins was lost to a knee injury during the summer.)

Gonzales, a potential college player, was one of the players McNabb signaled out for a strong effort in the playoff loss.

“She had four or five shots, and a couple of them were dangerous,” McNabb said.

The coach also praised the play of junior Aspen Lovshin in the middle and junior Ally Cleverly at center-back.

Junior goalkeeper Payton Carver also helped keep the Bulldogs in the match until the end.

McNabb praised the effort of his entire team for never giving up during the season.

“They competed in every game,” McNabb said. “They were there.”

The coach said his team was disappointed with the loss. Butte High beat the Bison early in the season in Great Falls and fell to Great Falls in Butte.

“They had pretty high hopes,” McNabb said. “They’ve been talking about it after Great Falls beat us at home. It’s pretty heartbreaking.”

Butte High will turn those high hopes to a strong 2018 season. That’s when Cleverly, Carver, Lovshin, Gabbie Parini, Lexie Kautzman, Marti Ludwick, Jordyn LaPier and Justise Birkenbuel will lead the team as seniors.

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