By Bill Foley
The scoreboard really didn’t matter Sunday morning at Dahlberg Field.
Butte Blizzard Lacrosse had something to celebrate as the high school team played its first and only home match of the season.
The Blizzard recognized their fifth season with a game against the mighty Glacier Lacrosse Club from the Kalispell area. Butte players, their families and friends held a celebratory lunch following the game.
Glacier, which played Bozeman White in a neutral-site match on the West Elementary field in the afternoon, also had reason to celebrate. Glacier showed the Butte crowd what a finely-turned high school lacrosse team looks like with a 22-0 win over the young hometown squad.
The Glacier team was the runner up at the state tournament last May. Butte, hit hard by graduation and a couple of injuries, only had one substitute.
Still, Butte battled until the final whistle.
“We compete regardless,” said Butte head coach Hunter Carroll, who was a player when the Butte club began play. “We don’t really worry about the score until the end. There’s no point looking at the score. Let’s just get the experience and learn from it.”
Glacier made the Blizzard pay for every single mistake, scoring 16 goals in the first half.
“They’ve got a lot of years ahead of us,” Carroll said. “They’re good. They’re very sound with their passing and everything like that.”
With the clock running continuously in the second half, Butte was able to limit the damage with better play.
“I feel like we got better as the game went on,” Carroll said.
Dylan Leese knocked in four goals, while Colby Clemmons scored three goals and dished out three assists to lead Glacier, which outshot Butte 51-13. Caleb Smith chalked up two goals and three assists, while Drew Engellant, Rogun Nicholson and Lincoln Jones each sored a pair of goals.
A.J. Cross got of six shots for Butte. Cole Johnson shot four times. Isen Padbury shot twice, and Logan McMahan got off one shot.
Levi McMahon held up under fire, saving 17 shots on goal.
Butte played without injured Adam Miller and Cam Knoell. Carroll is hoping to get both back by the state tournament, which is in two weeks in Missoula.
The injuries made Butte’s young team even younger.
“I want to say 90 percent of the is sophomores or freshmen,” Carroll said.
Butte has three seniors in Cross, Ethan Hafer and Ben Biastoch. Johnson is the team’s only junior.
Other Butte players are Jes Goodwin, Kale Anzik, Jim Kinsey and Skylar Waters. Carroll is the lone full-time coach.
Sunday marked Butte’s sixth game of the season. The Blizzard saw the first four games of the season canceled because of the heavy snow in late February and early March.
The road gets tougher for the Blizzard from here. The Butte team plays defending state champion Bozeman Red Saturday in Missoula.
As they near the end of the fifth season — and the second with the name the Bizzard — the Butte players will soldier on with an eye toward the future.
The Butte club, one of the few high school teams without a feeder youth program, plans a couple of camps for the summer to try to spark interest in the sport.
The current high school players are looking to continue steady improvement over the final two weeks. The team is guaranteed at least two games at the state tournament.
“We’re going to keep on playing,” Carroll said. “We’ll keep getting better.”