Butte High played with fire Thursday afternoon at the Jeremy Bullock Complex.
The Bulldogs dominated Great Falls High in an Eastern AA boys’ soccer match, controlling the match for most of the 80 minutes.
It wasn’t until senior Marcus Madrazo found the back of the net on a breakaway in the second half that Butte High was able to breathe easy in a 1-0 victory.
“We controlled the game pretty well,” Madrazo said. “We had a ton of opportunities in the first half, and we just couldn’t finish.”
Madrazo’s game-winner came after a barrage of near misses for the Bulldogs in the second half.
In a matter of minutes, Madrazo sailed a shot over the top of the goal, Kyle Rauch hit the left post, Jacob Sholey just missed a good look, and Conor Powers barely missed wide left.
Madrazo made sure the next chance didn’t miss. He rolled a shot past Kyle Leitheiser, sending the Bulldogs into celebration mode.
“I saw the goalie come off the line, and I knew I had him beat,” Madrzo said. “He came off and I had either side.”
Bulldog coach Eric Zahler had mixed emotions after the game. He was thrilled with the win, but still wondered what could have been for the Bulldogs, who easily outshot the Bison by a 2 to 1 margin.
“We should have put them away. We had a lot of chances early,” Zahler said. “When we play compact and we combine passes, we’re dangerous and we can play with anybody in the state.”
The Bulldogs were once again playing without senior Matt Loeffler, who could be out several weeks with a leg injury.
“With Matt out we’re really missing that finisher,” Zahler said. “We’re missing that last finishing touch.”
“He’ll probably be our leading goal scorer once he comes back,” Madrazo added of his classmate.
The coach had praise for Madrazo, who touched the ball more than anybody on either team.
“Marcus was great. Our whole back line played great,” Zahler said. “Connor and Blake (Casagranda) we’re really dynamic on top. We’re starting to see moments of greatness. By mid season, I don’t think anybody will want to play Butte.”
Goal keeper Jacob Williams took care of the rare scoring chances the Bison had.
“I think this team is starting to come together,” Madrazo said. “I think we look really good this year, a lot better than the last couple of years.”
Butte High improved to 1-1-1 on the season in their conference opener. Butte High heads to Great Falls to take on C.M. Russell on Saturday.