You could call it a moral victory, but that is only telling half of the story.
Butte High’s girls’ soccer team learned a little bit about themselves in a 2-1 loss to Great Falls Russell Saturday at the Jeremy Bullock Complex. The Bulldogs learned they could play with anybody after winning the second half 1-0 against the defending Class AA State champions.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they learned that they have to play that way for the full 80 minutes of the game.
“We were miserable in the first half,” Bulldog coach Kevin Petritz said. “Camile (McEwen, Ally Clevery and Jori (Sholey) did all they could to get us to halftime at 2-0. We were very fortunate not go down more.”
After a break, fans were treated to a Bulldog team that resembled a contender.
“In the second half it was a completely different team,” Petritz said. “If we could put a full 80 minutes like that, especially against the defending state champions. We’ve just got to learn how to win, and that’s the next step.
“The first half team was the old Butte High,” Petritz said. “The second half team was the new Butte High.”
Both of CMR’s goals were borderline flukes.
About 13 minutes in, Courtney Shovlin bounced in a shot from near midfield that tipped off and over the fingertips of Butte goalkeeper Meaghan Weisenfels.
The next goal came about 13 minutes later when Eme McLaughlin made what Petritz called an “extremely athletic play.”
McLaughlin hit the deck, and somehow kicked the ball into the back of the net while on the ground.
At the time, Butte High argued that play should have been stopped. The officials, though, ruled that the play was not dangerous.
“We stopped on that,” Petritz said. “We’ve got to learn to play through the whistle on that.”
The Bulldogs got on the board with about 4 minutes left in the game when Marki Dauenhauer knocked in a penalty kick.
“I want to see more of that second half,” Petritz said. “We’ve just got to find a way to win.”
In particular, Petriz said Jessica Rosa and Mijah McLeod played well in the second half.
Cleverly, a freshman, was solid throughout against McLaughlin, who is a two-time All-State player.
“She will most likely be a three-time All-Stater at the end of the year, and Ally played outstanding against her 1 v 1,” the coach said.
Petritz said he was pleased with his entire team.
“The passing is there,” he said. “The offense is there. We have dangers forwards. We have dangerous outside mid. We have a good back three. My freshman keeper is coming along great. She played a fantastic second half.”
The Bulldogs head into a tough four-game stretch where they’ll face the other three teams from last year’s final four at State.
Butte High will host Billings Skyview on Friday before playing at Billings West on Saturday. Next up will be home games against Bozeman and Billings Senior.
The team will enter that stretch with a little momentum after Saturday’s second half.
“We come out with a positive, winning the second half,” Petritz said. “We carry that over to the next game. It’s going to be a good test for us to see what we do. I think we’re going to do well.”