GREAT FALLS — The 2016 season began on a bright note for the Butte High boys’ soccer team Saturday at the Great Falls Jamboree.
The Bulldogs beat Missoula Big Sky 2-1 before falling 4-0 to defending Class AA state champion Missoula Hellgate.
“We started the season with a win,” Butte High coach Eric Zahler said. “We didn’t get our first win last year until the playoffs.”
Oscar Kronenberger scored off a Russell Park assist in the 57th minute of a 60-minute game to give the Bulldogs the win over Big Sky.
The Bulldogs took the lead 10 minutes into the game when Shaun Villa booted in a goal off a Brock Powell assist.
The Eagles, though, tied the game in the 56th minute, meaning the Bulldogs needed some heroics to get the win. They got it.
“We were never really worried,” Zahler said. “We felt we were in control the whole game.”
Zahler said the game against Hellgate was closer than the score line might indicate.
“We had four or five corner kicks and four or five crossers, and we just didn’t finish,” Zahler said. “On the flipside, they made theirs.”
The Butte High coach pointed to the play of Zach Archibald, Kronenberger and his goalkeepers, Powell and Erik Rosa, as highlights.
“Zach Archibald was very creative all over the field,” Zahler said of the Bulldog senior. “He was continuously keeping pressure on the other teams.”
Kronenberger, who played striker, also created problems for the opposition.
“He really found his way through the back line of both teams,” Zahler said Kronenberger, who is also a senior.
Powell, a senior who also so extensive time in the Bulldog attack, and Rosa, a junior, each played one half of each game in goal. Zahler said the two are still locked in a battle for the starting spot.
Zahler said everything wasn’t perfect for the Bulldogs on the opening day. He said the team’s communication and back-line play need some work.
“We need to start talking more,” Zahler said.
The coach said he expects his team to fix some “glitches” on the back line relatively soon.
“We need to clean that up,” Zahler said. “In a week or two, that back line will be as solid as can be.”
The Bulldogs will play their first conference game Thursday when they head back to Great Falls to take on CMR. Butte High will play at home next Saturday against Great Falls High.