By Bill Foley
As dark started to settle in at the Jeremy Bullock Complex Thursday evening, the scoreboard showed that the visiting Bozeman Hawks beat Butte High 6-0 in an Eastern AA soccer match.
The number that mattered for the Bulldogs, however, was three.
Three Butte High seniors — Camille McEwen, Jori Sholey and Genna Gardner — just closed their home career with a tough loss. The trio was pleased with the progress the team made, especially late in the season. But they weren’t happy about the Senior Day loss.
“It’s just kind of crappy to have to play our last game against Bozeman and lose this hard,” an emotional Gardner said. “We poured our hearts out into this, and we poured our hearts out every day for the last four years. We played every day for these girls. It’s just kind of sucky to lose this way.
“This is the best team that I played for at Butte High, definitely.”
Bozeman, which has a spot in the Class AA State tournament wrapped up, took the lead in the game’s second minute when Elaine Chandler scored off an assist from Keely Lane.
Alexa Coyle added a hat trick as the Hawks scored three goals in each half en route to the lopsided win.
Coyle scored off a Lane assist in the 15th minute before Keely Kempt added a goal on a Sophia Robinson assist in the 31st minute.
The 5-foot-10 senior added an unassisted goal and a goal from a Lizzie Rich assist in the first 17 minutes of the second half. Abby Ross added a goal on a rebound in the 76th minute to cap the scoring for the Hawks, who were on the attack for a full 80 minutes.
“I think that we played with them, McEwen said. “They just have a better attack than we do.”
Goalkeeper Allison Collins made several big saves despite being under attack all game. Marti Ludwick and Gabbie Parini each got behind the defense for looks at the goal, but the Bulldogs just couldn’t get the shots off against the talented Hawks.
And, of course, the three Bulldog seniors played like their lives depended on it.
“Every time those three get out on the field, there’s nothing left after the game from them,” Butte High coach Kevin Petritz said. “There’s nothing.
Sholey said inconsistent play hurt the Bulldogs in the loss, which dropped them to 1-12-1 overall and 1-10-1 in conference play.
“We have the talent,” Sholey said. “It’s just staying together and not giving up. We’ve got to find that to fight all the way through. Once we do that we’ll be in good shape.”
The Bulldog seniors quickly turned from heartbreak from losing their final home match to confidence heading to their playoff game at Great Falls High, which will likely be on Tuesday. The Bulldogs beat the Bison 2-1 Oct. 1 in Great Falls. The Bison won 1-0 on a penalty kick earlier in the season in Butte.
The winner of that match will head to Billings Senior with a berth in the state tournament on the line.
“If we play the game that we’ve been playing the last four games—including this game at times— we should be able to do some great things,” Petritz said. “In playoff games, anything can happen. You’ve got to show up to play, and you’ve got to show up to win.”
The coach marveled at the three seniors whose home careers ended.
“All three of them are the greatest kids,” Petritz said. “This is the legacy they’re going to leave. It’s not wins and losses. When I first came in, we were completing maybe three or four passes at a time. We’re completing and swinging balls and getting into the attack 15 to 20 passes multiple times in a game.”
Nearly half of Butte High’s 18-player roster didn’t play soccer at all until the team began practice this season.
Petritz said McEwen, Sholey and Gardner unquestionably put the young Bulldogs on the path to future success.
“Later on down the road when we’re starting to win games, you’re going to look back and it’s going to be those three kids there,” Petritz said. “They’re three great seniors, and we’re not done yet. We’re just not going to be able to play at home anymore.”
McEwen said the future is bright for Butte High’s girls’ soccer team.
“I think they’ll have a winning season next year,” she said. “They have a lot of talent.” 1 comment