A tale of two halves.
That was the story on Wednesday of the girls Class AA state semifinal soccer match in which the Billings West girls downed the host Glacier Wolfpack, 2-1 to advance to the state championship on Saturday.
“West controlled the tempo and goal scoring opportunities in the first half,” said Glacier coach Brenden Byrd.
(The Bears) came out with a game plan of high intensity and high pressure, Byrd said.
That resulted in goals by Jillian Hust (26th minute) and Emma Lensing (33rd minute).
“It’s one of those situations. West just had a couple of opportunities that they finished and we did not finish ours,” Byrd said.
But the Wolfpack didn’t back down. It made a few adjustments at intermission and came out a little more aggressive in the second half.
“They’re a very direct counterattack team. Once we switched to (a more aggressive) style of game, they didn’t have another offensive attack on us.”
After the intermission Glacier dominated the offensive attack and only allowed two shots from West.
“West is an outstanding team and Glacier played them to the final whistle. That’s how semifinal matches are supposed to be,” Byrd said.
Kenzie Williams scored Glacier’s goal in the 73rd minute on an assist from Micah Hicketheir.
The statistics definitely favor the Wolfpack.
It took 15 shots on goal. West had seven. Glacier had six cornerkicks and was called for just four fouls to one and 11 for the Bears.
The ball was definitely on the Billings West side of the pitch more than the Glacier end.
Glacier keeper Sophie Smith had five saves. Billings West had 14 saves.
“I’m grateful for all the lessons and memories that I’ll cherish for a long time to come. I’m excited to see the future of this program,” Smith told her coach afterward.
This will be a season to remember for the Wolfpack and their fans.
Glacier won its first ever Western AA Conference championship a few weeks back, then defeated Butte and CMR in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
“It’s tough to end the season in the semifinal, one game short of a state championship match. But I couldn’t be prouder of this group of young ladies.
“They will hold their heads high and build on this finish for years to come. I can’t thank our seniors enough for the leadership and effort they gave over the past four years to get us here,” Byrd said.
“Not many teams get to end their season in the state semifinals. I’m happy to be one of those that did.”
Glacier graduates six seniors, including five starters.
“We have an outstanding group coming back,” the coach said.
Billings West 2, Glacier 1
West 2 0 —2
Glacier 0 1 —1
West — Jillian Hust, 26:00
West — Emma Lensing, 33:00
Glacier — Kenzie Williams (assist Micah Hicketheir) 73:00
Shots on goal— West 7, Glacier 15
Saves — West 14, Glacier 5 (Sophie Smith)
Corners — West 1, Glacier 6
Fouls — West 11, Glacier 4