Defending champion Hawks teach Butte High a lesson

The three-time defending Class AA State champion Bozeman boys’ soccer team put on a bit of a clinic Tuesday at the Jeremy Bullock Complex.

The Hawks, coached by Butte native Hunter Terry, beat Butte High 6-0 in an Eastern AA game in the cold and the wind.

“Everything is dynamic,” Butte High coach Eric Zahler said of the Hawks. “They don’t break their shape. Their triangles are all over the field. They’re a great team. They’re hard to break down.’

Still, the Bulldogs were feeling pretty good about themselves for much of the game.

The game was scoreless for the first 28 minutes. Then, Connor Coles got a fortuitous rebound off the post and found the back of the net on his own rebound. It turned out the be the first of three goals on the day for Coles.

The Hawks doubled the lead three minutes later when Ryan Vanderwall broke free for a one-on-one shot at Butte keeper Erik Rosa and a goal.

“We held on strong there for quite a while,” Zahler said. “It was 2-0 at halftime against the defending state champions, and we created opportunities. I was feeling pretty comfortable. I felt really good.”

The second half was just bad news for the Bulldogs, who saw their lone senior, defenseman Andrew Howery, leave the game after aggravating a nagging knee injury.

“Howery was having a good game,” Zahler said. “We’re just happy to have him any time we can have him. He’s that much of a leader on the field.”

Larkin Lane scored off a Chris Likenbach assist to make it a 3-0 game 7 minutes into the second half.

Coles then added a pair of  unassisted goals to break the game open. An unassisted goal by Vanderwall, his second of the day, capped the scoring.

Despite the loss, Zahler said his team can learn a great deal from Tuesday’s game.

“There is nothing hurt here. We learned a lot, that’s the bottom line,” the coach said. “We figured out that we’ve got to be a little more dynamic offensively. We’ve got to combine touches more in our offensive third. We’ve got to move as a unit up and down the field. We got spread out by Bozeman, and they picked us apart.

“When we were able to generate attack, we got two or three guys in the offense and we didn’t get everybody to step up. We’ve got to clean those things up.”

Zahler praised the play of Rosa between the pipes.

“For a sophomore he’s really stepping up in a big position, and he’s doing a decent job,” the coach said. “Andrew had the back line locked down until the injury. The three guys in the middle, Brock (Powell), Travis (Williams) and Zach Archibald. What heart those kids have. They just worked, worked and worked. They left it all out on the field.”

The Bulldogs play at home against Billings Senior on Saturday. The Broncs are the one team that beat the Hawks this season.

“If we can stay healthy we’ll be dangerous, there’s no doubt about that,” Zahler said. “We just came across a juggernaut today.”

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