An early penalty kick and strong defense helped the Flathead boys soccer team win a tight, physical battle 2-0 over Glacier on Thursday evening at Legends Stadium. Later, the Flathead girls completed the season sweep of the Wolfpack with a 2-0 victory of their own.
The drama arrived early in the boys match, when Glacier was called for a push in the box on Flathead senior Colter Goss in the third minute. Senior Cameron Deneeve took the penalty pick and calmly placed it in the lower-left corner of the goal.
Confronting an early deficit, Glacier (3-7 overall, 2-6 Western AA) responded by pressing forward and challenging the Flathead (6-4, 4-4) defense. But the Wolfpack struggled to create chances for most of the half.
Flathead coach Zach Brenneman was thrilled with his defense’s performance.
“I thought our back line — especially our center backs Walt [Hollensteiner] and Camas [Rinehart] — did a great job of reading the play and anticipating what they were going to do,” Brenneman said. “They were really clean on their clearances ... And that’s just so huge not to give the other team that second ball or that second chance inside the box.”
Late in the first half, Wolfpack senior Dyllyn Stabler finally found a way through the Braves back line. An open shot in front of goal in the 33rd minute forced keeper Max Warnell to make an excellent, quick-reflex save, and in the 38th minute Stabler almost struck the ball into an open net off a Warnell deflection before the defense recovered in time to keep it out.
Stabler had another close-range shot hit the side of the net early in the second half, but the Flathead back line snuffed out most of Glacier’s chances.
“We had a couple great looks, but that was the difference,” Glacier coach Ryan Billiet said. “They finished one of their looks and we didn’t put anything in the back of the net.”
Billiet said being a goal down caused his team to lack patience at times, but he was proud of his team for playing a complete game.
“Sometimes the goal is elusive to you. And tonight it was for us unfortunately,” he said,
Flathead added an insurance goal in the 74th minute. Hollensteiner launched a ball over the Glacier defense to Goss, who collected the ball and easily beat the Glacier keeper Andrew Lorenc.
“I thought Goss up front was doing a great job keeping the ball for us and possessing by himself,” Brenneman said. He also pointed out Deneeve’s stellar performance on the wing and his midfield’s impressive physical play.
In the girls match, the Bravettes (3-6-1, 3-4-1) used a second half surge to take down Glacier (1-7-1, 1-6-0).
The teams went into the break tied 0-0 after a first half where neither team had a real scoring chance. Flathead keeper Aaris Hill and Glacier keeper Sophie Smith were aggressive and stopped multiple breakaway opportunities.
But the Bravettes broke through early in the second half. In the 43rd minute, Glacier gifted the ball to senior Shayenn Thompson on a poor clearance in the penalty box, and Thompson scored easily. Six minutes later, sophomore Skyleigh Thompson deflected a corner kick to the feet of Mathilde Burgaard for another simple strike.
Glacier nearly got back into the match via a corner kick in the 71st minute, but Flathead converged on Glacier in front the net and blocked its close-range attempts.
Flathead coach Bledy Doda was proud of his team’s aggressiveness and mental preparedness.
“Crosstown means a lot,” Doda said. “We have to be mentally more prepared [than other games]. Everything we’ve practiced we showed on the field.”
Flathead 1 1 – 2
Glacier 0 0 – 0
F – Cameron Deneeve, PK, 4:00
F – Colter Goss (Walt Hollensteiner), 74:00
Shots on goal – Flathead 6, Glacier 7; Corner kicks – Flathead 5, Glacier 3; Keeper saves – Flathead 6, Glacier 4; Fouls – Flathead 8, Glacier 12; Cards – Flathead 2 yellow, Glacier 1 yellow.
Flathead 0 2 – 2
Glacier 0 0 – 0
F – Shayenn Thompson (Ellie Hawes), 43:00
F – Mathilde Burgaard (Skyleigh Thompson), 49:00
Shots on goal - Flathead 12, Glacier 8; Corner kicks – Flathead 4, Glacier 5; Keeper saves – Flathead 8, Glacier 10; Fouls – Flathead 5, Glacier 8.