The wind was howling and raindrops falling on Saturday afternoon at the Hamilton High School sports complex. Hamilton was host to Corvallis for the soccer edition of their Homecoming weekend. The games were originally scheduled to be played on Thursday. However a case of COVID shut Hamilton schools down that day and so the games were moved to Saturday.
On the line for the last weekend of conference play was the conference championship for the Corvallis and Hamilton girls. When the two met earlier in the season, they battled to a 3-3 tie. Neither team expected this game to be any easier, and it wasn’t.
“This is a great rivalry,” said Corvallis cold Dave Molesh. “Many of these girls have played together at the club level and know each other well.”
Both Corvallis and Hamilton had their chances but the respective defenses put up a strong fight and kept the game scoreless. Each team made runs but the keepers for both teams kept the ball from hitting the back of the net.
Molesh said that Hamilton had ‘marked’ the Blue Devil offensive players and really did a good job stopping them. Conversely, Hamilton was stopped several times by the Blue Devil offense as well. The majority of the game was actually played in the middle of the field.
Molesh said that the Corvallis keeper, Kaitlin McCartney did a great job. “She made a diving save, got clipped in the head, and came back to make some great plays.”
The two teams battled to a 0-0 tie. Since there was no outright winner, the conference title was determined on a point basis. Corvallis had five wins and three ties and finished with 18 points. Each win was worth three points and the ties were worth one point. Hamilton finished with 16 points.
The playoffs will begin this Saturday. They will play the No. 2 team from the North which wasn’t determined at press time. Hamilton will have to play a play in game on Thursday. If Stevensville defeated Frenchtown and Loyola on Monday and Tuesday, then they would play Corvallis. One loss by Stevensville and Hamilton would have to play Loyola.
The Corvallis boys took on Hamilton earlier in the day. On the line for Corvallis was a chance to advance in the playoffs. In spite of the gusting winds, Corvallis scored early and kept attacking throughout the game. They went on to win, 6-0.
Chris Gonzales, a senior, had three goals and two assists in the game. Luke Sangster, a junior, had two goals against the Broncs. Corvallis has had two games where their opponents scored a goal each. The rest of their games have been shutouts.
“It was a nice win,” said Corvallis coach Tim Hickey. “Our defense has been outstanding.”
The win gave Corvallis the best record of the second half of the season with three wins and a tie and it puts them into a play-in game. Hickey said he thinks the Southwest conference is the toughest conference. Frenchtown has the No.1 seed locked up and so Corvallis will either play Loyola or Stevensville. That game will be on Thursday. Then, on Saturday, the winner of the play-in game will have to travel to Eastern Montana where they will likely take on Billings Central.
Hickey said he was particularly pleased that his team was able to defeat Frenchtown and gain more momentum earlier this month.