HELENA — A regular high school soccer match in Montana is 80 minutes and Friday at the Siebel Soccer Fields in Helena, not even 100 minutes were enough to decide the playoff match between Helena High and Gallatin.
The two teams squared off in the Class AA girls state tournament, in the quarterfinals and battled their way to a 1-1 draw at the end of regulation.
Neither team was able to the find the net in two periods of extra time, which sent the match to penalty kicks where the Bengals eventually prevailed (9-8).
Helena and Gallatin each made their first eight shot attempts, but one by Rachel Plaster, nearly missed as the Gallatin keeper was able to get a hand on it, a miss that could have ended the Bengals season.
"I usually always go the left on penalty kicks," Plaster said. "But I felt more confident going to the right and when she got a hand on the ball, I thought she was going to knock it out and I thought I lost it for my team, but then I saw it hit the net and I was so thankful. That was the most stressful game I have been a part of."
Eventually, Helena goalie Audri Aakre was able to make a save, setting the stage for freshman Avery Kraft to drill home the winning kick.
"It was insane," Aakre said. "The rush of adrenaline was crazy. Then, I knew it was up to Avery. I had done my job, but I had 100 percent confidence that she would do it."
The freshman striker who scored nine goals during the regular season, found the back of the net, giving Helena the win and sending the Bengals into the semifinals Tuesday at Siebel.
Yet, the Bengals needed some heroics from another freshman early in the second half just to reach extra time. Gallatin, the lower seeded team from the Eastern AA struck first on a goal late in the first half, putting the Raptors in front 1-0 at the break.
But early in the second frame, Logan Todorovich, another Helena High freshman, tied things up at 1-1. That was the last goal of the match before penalty kicks after 100 minutes of head-to-head play.
"I think the fact that that was almost our last game and that it came down to a save will fuel us," Plaster said. "Our season was on the line there and we are hoping to go really far. That scared us and I think in the next competition, we are ready to pick up our game."
The Helena High boys had their season come to and end at the hands of Bozeman. The Hawks downed the Bengals 5-2 in their AA quarterfinal.