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Girls drop Corvallis 6-3; face Billings on the road

by Hungry Horse News
| October 19, 2022 9:00 AM

There were some rocky moments, but the Columbia Falls girls soccer team advanced to the semifinals of the state A soccer playoffs last week, beating Corvallis 6-3 at home Saturday. Several players were reportedly battling illness against the Lady Blue Devils, but everytime Corvallis threatened to make it a game, the Wildcats were able to stave off the charge.

Hope McAtee had a hat trick in the win.

The game was tied at 1 apiece in the first 16 minutes, as Sydney Mann scored at the 15 minute mark on an assist by McAtee, but Corvallis answered a minute later.

McAtee had two goals late in the first half within three minutes of each other to make it 3-1 at the break, but Corvallis made it interesting as Elsa Miller scored to make it 3-2. That was as close as the Lady Blue Devils would get, as the Cats tightened up the defense down the stretch. Josie Harris and Tayler Lingle each scored and McAtee capped off the game with a score at the 78-minute mark.

Harris played the full stretch of the pitch, making solid defense plays on one end and admirable offense on the other.

Coach Thomas Clark was pleased with the play, but also noted the girls felt like they could have played better, particularly McAtee, even though she had a hat trick.

“That’s a testament to her leadership,” he said.

He noted the team has come a long way since the beginning of the year and has shown it can battle through adversity.

“It’s pretty cool,” he said. The Cats had a battle just to get into the playoffs, beating Bigfork in a play-in game 2-1 on the road Wednesday., The Cats struck first on a goal by McAtee at the 15-minute mark with an assist by Mann, but Bigfork responded with a goal 5 minutes later.

The teams ground it out through the rest of the first half and 25 minutes into the second half.

Wildcat senior keeper Zoey Byrd had a stellar game, turning away 13 Bigfork shots, including a shot that bounced off her and she was able to secure the rebound, noted Clark, who was a keeper himself during his high school career.

“Zoey came out and played like she didn’t want her career to be over,” Clark said. “… Good players make the hard stuff look easy.”

The winning goal came when freshman Mila Johns cranked a shot at the goal and speedy sophomore Tayler Lingle buried in the rebound. “Super proud of the girls,” Clark said. “It was one of those gut check games.” The Cats were then able to hold off Bigfork on their home field for 15 minutes for the win. Clark said the boys team came over to cheer them on and they had as many fans on the sidelines as the Valkyries did. It was a big help. The girls now travel to Billings for the semifinal

match against the Rams. Central beat Stevensville 5-0 to advance. Central is 12-1 on the season.

Clark noted the Rams play a similar system as the Cats. They also have one of the best players in the state in Abby Derbyshire, who has 23 goals on the season. They’ll look to slow her down and in, turn, control the midfield.

The Rams play on artificial turf, so the pitch should be quick. Game time is 11 a.m.

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Junior Hope McAtee sinks a precision goal from outside the box on Saturday at Flip Darling Field on Saturday. (JP Edge photo)

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Senior Sydney Mann celebrates a Wildkat's goal on Saturday at Flip Darling Field in the quarter final. (JP Edge photo)

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Tayler Lingle battles with defenders in front of Corvallis' goal. (JP Edge photo)

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Sophomore Tayler Lingle chests the ball at Flip Darling Field on Saturday against Corvallis in the quarter final on Saturday. (JP Edge photo)

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Senior Sydney Mann fights with a Corvallis defender inside the box. (JP Edge photo)

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