HELENA — Each game with a drastically different level of excitement, the Helena High soccer teams defeated the Butte Bulldogs on Tuesday at Siebel Soccer Complex. The boys pulled away to win 4-1 and the girls won 9-1.
The Bengal boys found themselves in a nail-biter with Butte for most of the game. The Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead into halftime thanks to a goal by Colton Case.
"Isen (Padbury) played it to me and it deflected into Jack (Luoma)," explained Case. "Then Jack played me through, and I hit it hard enough into the goalie that it bounced over him and in."
Helena's Ethan Hayes knotted the game, 1-1, with 30 minutes to play in the second half. He found himself alone in front of the net after collecting a through ball behind the Bulldogs' back line. Hayes then drilled it past Butte goalkeeper Joe Schrader for the goal.
For the next 27 minutes, the Bulldogs held tough. Whether it was one of several saves by Schrader, or misfires from Helena forwards, the Bengals just couldn't break through for the go-ahead goal.
Until they did.
"Anytime the goals aren't falling for you, it is a little frustrating," said Helena coach Carl Straub. "I'm proud of the guys for just continuing to wear them down, and eventually in those last three minutes they couldn't hang on to it. But credit to Butte. They did a great job today."
With two-and-a-half minutes to go, Lucas Canty put the Bengals in front, 2-1.
"Josh (Valesquez) sent in a corner kick," Canty recalled. "It deflected off a few people in the box and I was sitting there picking up trash. It just came to me. It was a perfect volley and I smashed it into the bottom-left corner."
Helena breathed a collective sigh of relief. After coming up empty for most of the half, their work was finally paying dividends and the flood gates were open.
Less than a minute later, Ben Vince tacked on another goal to make it 3-1. Less than a minute after that, Jacob Demmons drilled home another to make it 4-1.
"I was happy that we had the lead at halftime," said Butte coach Cody Carpenter. "Us coming in with only 22 players for two teams was kind of tough from a subbing standpoint. That really hurt us in the second half."
The girls game was never in doubt. Rachael Plaster notched three goals, Elsa Grebenc scored two goals, Avery Kraft had two goals, and Quinn Benedetti and Kea Normandy had one goal apiece.
"We used our outside midfielders much better in this game than we did on Saturday," said Bengals coach Mike Meloy. "I think the effect of doing that was to open up the field so that we can find feet as we move the ball up the field. It creates gaps that we can pass through and run through."
Butte's goal came with 11 minutes to play before halftime and cut the Helena lead to 4-1. While the Bengals were getting ready to shift around the back, Quinn Benedetti mistakenly deflected the ball to Christiana Beierle and Beierle knocked in the Bulldogs lone goal.
It was all Bengals after that.
"I think we're off in some places," said Bulldogs coach Jacob Steilman. "We'll make progress somewhere and then we go back. Something else pops up somewhere that we haven't been paying enough attention to."
Helena High travels to Missoula on Thursday to take on Hellgate.