MISSOULA — Tying twice in a row to start the season wasn't what the Missoula Big Sky girls soccer team had in mind.
The Eagles' disappointment was easy to read after their home match with Helena in 89-degree heat Tuesday. After reaching the State AA title game last October, they're probably not going to be happy tying anyone this season.
"We hold ourselves to a really high standard and we should," said Big Sky coach Courtney Shields, whose team surrendered a goal with 5 seconds left and settled for a 3-3 draw with the Bengals. "What the girls said in our last huddle is we've scored six goals in our first two games, so that's really good.
"It's just kind of odd to have two ties, both 3-3, both Helena schools. It's more strange than anything. It will take me a while to process that. When you have the game in your grips and then the refs make a decision that affects the result, it leaves a bitter taste."
With Big Sky clinging to a 3-2 lead and little time left on the clock, Helena sophomore Rachael Plaster launched a long shot that banged off the crossbar and dropped straight down. The officials ruled that the ball barely crossed the goal line.
Helena, who beat Sentinel Saturday, moved to 1-0-1. Big Sky is still looking for its first win at 0-0-2.
"I'm proud of my team for having another good battle," Shields said. "One thing I said to them afterwards is we have to get the work done earlier and not leave it to the last 10 seconds and hope for the best."
Senior Hannah Santamaria, who scored two goal for the hosts, says the heat over the last five days has caught her team off guard. The Eagles never really had a chance to practice in such trying conditions, so they're learning as they go.
"It's mostly mental," she said. "Just because it's hot, everyone starts to think, 'Oh I'm tired.'
"But that's only because they're telling themselves they're tired. We're incredibly in shape. I think we're the best team in shape. We start to play poorly in this high level of heat. I think as the season goes on we'll get better. We're hoping to become champions."
There's no arguing Big Sky has one of the most dangerous attacks in state. Santamaria already has three goals this season. Whitney Morrison, Mazey Kasberg and Gianna Migliaccio are equally tough to contain.
"They're just solid offensively," Shields said. "But defensively we're struggling in the midfield. Helena looked a little stronger with their centers and that's where they got their last goal."
Big Sky will focus on getting better in practice now. The Eagles do no play again until next Tuesday at Hellgate.