Bulldog boys settle for tie with Bison

Butte High’s boys’ soccer team showed a glimpse of the future Thursday at the Jeremy Bullock Complex.

Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, that sneak peek didn’t last long enough as Great Falls High scored two second-half goals to tie the Bulldogs 2-all in an Eastern AA game.

“It’s coming together,” Butte High coach Eric Zahler said. “We’re young. We’re still building these kids to play at the double-A level, and you’re seeing it.”

Brock Powell and Kyle Rauch scored goals to put the Bulldogs on top in the first half.

Powell got the first score, heading in a goal off an assist from Oscar Kronenberger in the game’s 16th minute.

Ten minutes later, Rauch scored off a Shaun Villa assist. The Bulldogs go several more looks at the goal in the first half, but the score remained into halftime.

“Two-nothing is the scariest lead in soccer,” Zahler said. “I would have been comfortable if we would have gotten that third goal.”

Great Falls cut the lead in half three minutes into the second half when Dale Morehouse Hoffman headed in a goal off a corner kick.

The Bison remained on the attack. Hayden Van Son got off a direct kick that looked ticketed for the Butte goal. However, sophomore keeper Erik Rosa got up high to tip the shot over the top of the goal.

About a minute later, though, James Mitchell got off picture-perfect shot to tie the game with just under 5 minutes left.

Zahler said his team might have become a bit complacent in the second half.

“Once they tied it, we spent 5 minutes on the attack,” Zahler said. “I wish we would have started the second half like that.”

Butte High had several chances for a third goal in the final minutes. Great Falls had a couple chances, too.

“It was a back-and-forth game,” Zahler said. “Both team kind of set up the last five minutes really try to get that last goal and pull out the win.”

Zahler complimented the Bison, who swept the regular-season series with Butte High.

“They’re a gritty,” Zahler said. “They’re going to fight and fight. If you leave them in a 2-0 game and you don’t put them away they’re going to be scrappy.

“We need to learn how to put games away. We’re in games; we’re fighting. When we get a lead, we’ve got to be able to bury them.”

Despite the tie that keeps the Bulldogs winless on the season, Zahler said his team is still fighting for a berth in the Class AA State tournament.

First, the Bulldogs go to Great Falls on Saturday to take on CMR. He said Thursday tie is something the team can build on.

“I’d much rather have the win, but it’s a foundation for going to Great Falls this weekend,” Zahler said. “We can build on this. We can use this as power going into CMR.”

The game was the final home game for the Bulldogs. Their lone senior, Andrew Howery, missed the game with a knee injury.

“Next year this is going to be a really good group of kids,” Zahler said. “The sky is the limit for this team in the future. We just need to finish this year right.”

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