By Bruce Sayler
Butte High is 1-0 in boys’ soccer this season with its 2-0 victory on Thursday.
The season-opener for Eastern AA Conference play saw the Bulldogs score the victory over C.M. Russell of Great Falls at the Jeremy Bullock Memorial Soccer Fields.
Goalkeeper Erik Rosa led a shutout performance by the Butte High defense, and Trevyn Roth and Russell Park tallied the goals
“We did well,” first-year Bulldog head coach Riley McNabb said with a pleased smile. “It’s nice to start the season with a win. We expected to beat these guys and we did. We stepped it up and it was a team effort.
“The back line’s defense and Erik Rosa getting the shutout were big. Erik played huge.”
Rosa had nine saves and played an intimidating box against a CMR pressure attack that failed to make him crack.
Both goals came in the first half and Butte High frustrated the Rustlers the rest of the way.
Roth notched his po9int on a penalty kick in the 17th minute after a Russell takedown foul.
“Shaun Villa attacked the box and drew the foul,” McNabb said. “Trevyn Roth got the P-kick.”
The goal rebutted heavy CMR goal pressure that dominated the first six minutes of so of play. Once Butte High made it past midfield, the Bulldogs found the offensive opportunities to set the Rustlers back more off their rush.
Park scored his goal in the 38th minute when Butte High’s offense met at the goal.
“Trevyn made a good play downfield and pass to Nick Werkmeister. Russell cleaned it up on the back post.”
The shot found the back of the net after a flurry in the box.
“Trevyn made a good play and Nick ran onto the ball,” Park said. “His shot hit off their ‘keeper’s hands and I ran onto it, and the shot went in.”
The C.M. Russell goalkeeper appeared to tumble during the tumbling at the goal, but not until Park’s shot cleared the whole defense and scored.
Butte High played with only two substitutes, which might have led to the CMR uptempo tactic.
“CMR came out with just absolute pressure,” McNabb said. “We absorbed it and were able to get offensive and the goals came.”
The Bulldogs loosened the Rustlers’ defense with some long shots that pulled those guarding the C.M. Russell net away from the goal box.
“Justin McNabb, Trevyn and Russell in the center middle stepped it up and killed CMR’s attack, too,” coach McNabb said, adding praise for the defensemen — Brandon Quinn, Logan Johnson, Adam Choquette and Calvin Ball. “I want to reiterate. It was a team effort.”
Park said the longer tries weren’t just to pull out the opposition.
“They were open,” he said, matter=of-factly. “CMR was pressuring low.”
Figuring out the Rustlers’ offensive pressure source made it easier to turn Butte High’s answers upfield, he said.
“We just kind of pressured around them,” Park said, “because all they had for offense was up and down the side.”
Payton Cochran led the C.M. Russell attack with several tries and passes, but his team was unable to convert any of the chances.
“We’re disapponted,” CMR head coach Kumal LaCasse said. “We couldn’t get the ball to go in.”.
Butte High, though, was relaxed and pleased after the game.
“It felt good,” Park said. “It’s a nice way to start the season.”
The Bulldogs will play at Great Falls High on Saturday.