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Girls soccer falls to Billings, barely

| October 26, 2022 12:05 PM

Hungry Horse News

They didn’t go down without a fight.

The Columbia Falls girls soccer team could have packed up the season and let Billings Central celebrate its state championship berth Saturday.

Instead they fought to the bitter end, losing to Rams 4-3 in a game where a Wildcat shot with about two minutes left to tie it hit a defender and then the crossbar. Soccer can be a game of inches.

The Cats were down 3-0 in the first 20 minutes, but Josie Harris scored at the 24-minute mark to make it 3-1. Central added a goal to make it 4-1 at the break.

The Cats, however, kept fighting in the second half as Hope McAtee and Sydney Mann both scored to cut the margin to 4-3.

Coach Thomas Clark said he brought Mann back in the first half to play center back and Harris at outside back to try to staunch the Central assault.

But in the second half they put Mann back on offense and the team was able to battle back and make a game of it.

“I think we gave them a heckuva scare,” Clark said. “The girls fought like heck and competed really well.”

He credited senior keeper Zoey Byrd for keeping the Cats in it, as she had 18 saves.

“Some of which were heroic,” he said.

After a 3-3 start, the girls went 7-2 in their last nine, a tribute to their grit.

Next year they’ll return nine of 11 starters and they have four incoming freshmen who should contribute immediately, Clark said. McAtee, the team’s leading scorer and journeyman Harris both return and the Cats saw really nice work from freshmen Bella Mann, Taylor Rogers and Mila Johns this year.

In short, the future looks bright for Columbia Falls girls soccer.

“We’re excited about next year,” Clark said.

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