Since the inception of MHSA sanctioned soccer in 1991, the four local schools have collected a combined total of 17 State Soccer championships, led by the Capital High girls, with a Class AA record-tying eight titles. Next are Helena High’s boys, with four State crowns, followed by the Helena girls and Capital boys, at three and two championships, respectively.

Capital girls

From 1996-2000, the Capital girls soccer teams, under legendary coach Rick Thompson, garnered five successive Class AA titles, including a string of 68 consecutive victories.

CHS’ championships consisted of a 2-1 win over Bozeman in 1996, in 1997 they handled Flathead 5-0 in the finals, and in 1998 the Lady Bruins again beat the Bravettes by a 2-1 score. Their titles in 1999 and 2000, were both triumphs over crosstown Helena, 2-1 and 5-0. The last crown completed Capital’s fourth straight undefeated season.

Included among the team’s state records are consecutive state titles and straight match victories, successive undefeated seasons, most season goals (119), and fewest season goals allowed (2).

Capital attained its highest rankings in 2000, reaching 13th in the Western States poll, and 25th nationally. During the 68-match win streak – without a tie, no less – Thompson’s CHS juggernaut outscored the opposition 383-21, while recording 50 shutouts.

Capital all-staters during this era were Wendy Stuker (three times), Laura Morin (twice), Anna McMahon, Liz Roberts, Janna Literski (twice), Casey Berry, Erika Hutchison, Kathryn Hutchison, Rachel Hicks, Heather Olson and Kelsey Dalton.

After a couple years absence from the finals, the Lady Bruins ripped off three more straight crowns, from 2003-05.

In 2003, they edged Great Falls High for the title 1-0, when Anna Frankino shook the net for the only goal, with keeper Katie Beall securing the whitewash. Capital (12-2-1) placed three players on the all-state team, including Jacque Hunthausen, Leslie Boynton, Frankino and Bobbi Allard.

The next season, CHS (12-1-2) bested the Lady Hawks 5-2 to retain the crown, despite the graduation of 12 seniors from the previous year’s squad. Rattling the onion bag for the Bru-crew in the chipper were Allard, Danni Daly, Katie Moon, and freshman Whitney Dirks.

The Lady Bruin all-staters consisted of Allard and Moon.

Coach Thompson’s gals nailed down their three-peat, with a 1-0 shading of previously undefeated Bozeman in the 2005 championship tilt. Piping the title-winner for No. 3 seeded CHS (10-3-2) was Hannah Weinert in the 63rd minute, assisted by Jennifer Martin. Keeper Jenna FauntLeRoy and the back line iced the blanking.

Making all-state for the brown-and-gold were Moon and Shannon Furlong.

Thompson went on to coach for nine more years, retiring with a state record of 204 wins, 20 State tourney qualifications in 22 seasons, and a tie with Bozeman for most State AA championships, at eight apiece.

Helena boys

In 2002, Coach John Hollow’s Bengals went undefeated (12-0-3), beating Bozeman 2-1 in overtime, when forward Kody Andrew’s header rattled the onion bag on a cross from Micah Crowley. HHS fell behind 1-0 early, until Matt Nottingham’s goal at the 7-minute mark of the second half tied things up at 1-all.

Bengal all-state selections included Andrew, forward/midfielders Andy Mulvaney and Matt Nottingham, and defender Chris Hoang. Those making all-conference were keeper Kyle Mahoney and defender Brian Gilreath.

HHS then went back-to-back – again in overtime – this time with 3-2 triumph over Flathead. Regulation ended deadlocked at 1-1, on a goal by Andrew, and went into the second O.T. knotted at 2-2, thanks to teammate Chris Hoang’s penalty kick. But then Andrew worked his magic again, piping the game-winner with 2 minutes left on the overtime clock. Helena wound up at 12-3 on the year.

Andrew and Hoang earned their second straight all-state citations, while teammates garnering all-conference recognition were keeper Evan Price, and defenders Cuyler Tonkovich and Nick Fox.

Carl Straub has served as the head coach of Helena’s program since 2005. Two of his red-and-white teams have summited the mountain top, in 2007 and 2010, both over his former Bruin clubs, each in a shootout.

In 2007, the Bengals (12-2-2) prevailed over the Bruins, directed by Carl’s brother Patrick Straub, 2-1, in a shootout at Siebel Fields.

Helena’s Justin Maes and Tommy Clinch of Capital put shots between the pipes for a 1-1 regulation deadlock. After two scoreless overtimes, Malcolm Gilbert nailed the title-deciding penalty kick, while Bengal goalie Lander Jewett blocked a ball in the shootout.

Bengals chosen to the all-state team were Stephen Steffens and Haley Klarich. Teammates making all-conference included Maes and Ryan Fonk.

In 2010 in Great Falls, after scoreless regulation and overtime play in the chipper versus CHS, Helena’s John Cardiello booted the deciding goal, and keeper Scott Menzies blocked two penalty kicks in the shootout for a 4-1 victory.

Making all-state for the undefeated red-and-white (12-0-3) were forwards Stewart Miller and Dylan Allen, and defender Dustin Bingham. Straub owns a career record of 207-89-46 in his 23 seasons with Bozeman, CHS and HHS.

Helena girls

The HHS girls captured their first State crown in 2002, giving Helena a sweep of both championships that year.

In the 2002 chipper, the Lady Bengals defeated Flathead 2-1, also in overtime, on a header by forward Cassidy Merrick off of Lena May Frazer’s cross. After falling behind the Bravettes 1-0 in the first half, it was a goal by Frazer in the second half that forced the overtime.

Coach Mike Lamb’s kickers finished the season with a 12-1-2 record. Merrick and defenders Lindsay Loraas claimed all-state citations, while keeper Kim Harrington, Christina French, Addy Lord and Kayla Fleming made honorable mention all-conference.

From 2012-2017, Helena coach Mike Meloy’s kickers garnered six successive Western AA championships, highlighted by a pair of State titles, in 2015 and 2017. During one stretch, the Lady Bengals went 4½ years (38-0-11) without a regular season conference loss.

In 2015, the undefeated Lady Bengals (13-0-2) beat Missoula Sentinel, 2-1 in the chipper in Billings, behind goals from Patricia Martin and Kamden Hilborn. Both tallies were assisted by Katie Martin. Shanna Floerchinger was in goal.

Selected as all-staters were Patricia Martin and Laura Roberts, and Aine Lawlor. Kassie Schmitz, Hilborn and Katie Martin were chosen to the all-Western squad.

In 2017, HHS (11-1-3) bested Bozeman in the finals in Missoula, 4-2, on two goals and an assist by midfielder Katie Martin, along with scores by forward  Hilborn and Alana Vickory. Keeper Ashlin Slanger minded the net.

Representing the red-and-white on the all-state team were Hilborn, Martin and defender Cailyn Wall. Teammates making all-conference were Ellie Stock, Melina Hammer and Maddie Mariegard.

Capital boys

Under the late coach John Driscoll (1945-1999), Capital captured the program’s first AA crown in 1997, with a 2-0 shutout over Whitefish in the finals, to complete an unbeaten 14-0-1 season.

In the opening half, Jeff Mazurek pounded a ball into the net for the first score, on a pass from Marcus Kelly. Then teammate Brian Literski’s second half score, and the staunch brown-and-gold defense – which allowed just three goals in their final 13 games, anchored by keeper Jeff Curtis – cemented the title, for a Capital High sweep.

CHS kickers collecting all-state recognition were seniors Mazurek and Mike McCarver, and sophomore forward Vijay Diaz. Diaz then transferred, and was part of two national championships; with Louisville’s Ballard High in 1999, and NCAA’s 2004 Indiana Hoosiers.

The 2001 Bruins (9-3-3) captured their second crown, edging the Bengals 1-0 in overtime. Sophomore Peter Hiel’s goal, with an assist from Stuart Phelps, three minutes into the extra play was the decider.

Coach Carl Straub’s defense was anchored in the back by Colin Phelps, Sean Brennen and Ryan Sullivan, and keeper Ryan Palmer.

Bruins selected to the all-state team were Phelps, Scott Gittens and J.P. McCarvel. Those making all-conference were Jerrett Grimes, Sullivan and Sean Brennan.

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Curt Synness is on Twitter @curtsynness_IR and can be reached at curt.synness@lee.net or curt52synness@gmail.com

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