Havre Daily News sports editor
Spring soccer has kicked off all around the state of Montana in the last month and Havre's Hi-Line United has once again gotten its season started off on the right foot.
The Hi-Line United is a local club soccer team that is comprised of players all along the Hi-line. The United plays in the U-18 league.
The team has been very strong in recent years, finishing second at the state tournament last year after losing a 2-1 heartbreaker to Livingston in the final moments of the state championship game.
It's a brand new season and once again the team is extremely talented, and if everything goes according to plan, the United may just find a way to top last year's runner-up finish.
“We really have a lot of talent this year,” Hi-Line United head coach John Ita said. “We have a lot of exciting players to watch and the team really doesn't have a real weakness. We are loaded with talent and this team is going to be fun to watch.”
The team is led by goalie Shiloh Barrett, midfielder Drew Ita and striker Bruce Beecher. Barrett is the team's last line of defense and does a nice job of minding the net for the United. Beecher is the team's most dangerous striker and Drew Ita is a solid player on both offense and defense.
“Shiloh Barrett is a very committed goalie and he is like a brick wall back there, he just doesn't let a whole lot get through,” John Ita said. “Drew Ita is also a very solid overall player. He plays well both on offense and defense and he is a wonderful passer. Bruce Beecher is our top striker and he is also a very talented player.”
The United also has another very talented goalkeeper in Tyler Myers, a number of solid defensemen in Taylor Ita, Alex Leyba, Frank Lippy, Scott Geda and Jack Lynch. Their other top midfielders include Tyler Boyce, Chris Owens and Eric Olsen, while their other top strikers are Kyle Mackay and Fernando Duque.
“It is really hard to pick out the best players because they are all so talented,” John Ita said. “Another thing about them is that they are all very versatile.
“They can play multiple positions, and that is important in soccer,” he added. “There are no timeouts in soccer, so players have to be able to think and adjust on their feet, and our players are very good at doing that.”
The United is into its third week of the season. In the first two weekends of play, they were able to compile a 3-1 overall record while racking up some impressive victories.
The United opened up the season with a disappointing 4-1 loss to the Laurel Storm, one of the top teams in their division. The Storm was able to beat goalie Shiloh Barrett for four goals on nine shots, but Barrett did manage five saves. However, the Laurel attack was just too strong to stop.
The United got its only goal from Beecher with an assist from Drew Ita.
The United quickly rebounded from its tough loss to open the season with a 9-1 thrashing of Miles City to even its record up at 1-1.
Beecher once again led the way for the United with two goals on the day. Boyce, Drew Ita, Mackay, Olsen, Owens, Duque and Geda all added goals in the victory for the United.
The following weekend the team traveled to Missoula for a couple of games, the first of which was a 1-0 victory over Stevensville. Olsen scored the deciding goal with an assist from Drew Ita to give the United the only goal in a hard-fought defensive battle. Taylor Ita played exceptional defense in the contest, notching 19 interceptions. Alex Leyba and Geda added nine interceptions apiece in the win.
The Hi-Line United would then continue its streak of good play with a 10-0 pounding of Missoula. Olsen, Owens, Geda and Myers all had two goals each for the United in the win. Beecher and Mackay also added goals to round out the scoring for the United. Drew Ita had a very solid game as well, notching two assists.
“We have played very well especially on defense so far this season,” Ita said. “We lost a tough game to a very good team from Laurel, but it is still early in the season and we are still trying to figure out the best positions for everybody. Hopefully, we will get another shot at the team during the state tournament. They are a very good team, but we are as well, and I think that we could surprise them a little bit later on in the season.”
The Hi-Line United will be be back on the road this weekend in Shelby.