Butte High players scored three of the four goals in Thursday’s season-opening match against Great Falls Russell at the Jeremy Bullock Complex.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, one of the goals went into the wrong net. So, the Bulldogs settled for a 2-all tie with the Rustlers.
“What a great way to start the season,” Butte High coach Eric Zahler said of the game that ended as a white-knuckle affair.
Butte High goalkeeper Chad Hicks made a diving save to preserve the tie in front of a sizeable hometown crowd on a picture-perfect afternoon.
“Hicks was golden today,” Zahler said. “People don’t know Chad Hicks until they see him play a game. That kid is just a gamer. He’s on top of it. We’ve got the right guy in the box, and he proved that today.”
Butte High proved something. The Bulldogs showed they can play with one of the best in the state in their first time out the gate.
Actually, the Bulldogs were staring at a victory until CMR’s Corbin Klinefelter knocked in an unassisted goal in the 78th minute of the 80-minute game to tie the score.
That came about 8 minutes after Marcus Madrazo, a junior who was playing subvarsity football this time last year, scored off a Matt Loeffler assist to put Butte High on top 2-0.
Madrazo placed the ball perfectly just inside the left pipe.
“Madrazo stood out big,” Zahler said. “We’re happy to have him back from football, and he’s just contributing huge.”
The Bulldogs took the lead 1-0 on the 12th minute when Loeffler scored a goal assisted by Conor Powers.
The lead stood until CMR got the own goal when a kick bounced off a Bulldog and into the wrong net.
Zahler said it wasn’t hard to look past that easy mistake.
“That’s a quality team,” Zahler said of the Rustlers. “They’re a great soccer team. For us to even be up 2-1 and have a chance to win that … that’s good for us.
“It was an exciting game. It was a great way to start the season. I almost stroked out.”
Zahler pointed out that Butte High has a long way to improve, but that is to be expected so early in the season. He pointed out that his center-midfielders Jacob Williams and Jacob Shole are brand new to that position.
“They’re kind of baptism by fire. They’ve got some work to do, but they’ll be OK,” the coach said. “For rookie center-mids, that was a great game.”
Butte High is back in action Saturday when the Bulldogs hit the road to take on Great Falls High.
“We’re looking good,” Zahler said. “We’ve got a long ways to go, but we’re looking good.”