Havre Daily News
It must have felt like home sweet home for the Hi-Line United U-19 soccer club as it returned to Havre for a pair of home games against Shelby and Ravalli County on Saturday afternoon.
And The United gave the home fans what they wanted to see as they trounced the Shelby club 15-1. The United completed the sweep of back-to-back games by defeating a very talented Ravalli team, 3-2.
“It was nice to play at home and it gave the kids a chance to play in front of their parents and their home fans,” United head coach John Ita said. “We beat Shelby 15-1. We played well, but they are a very inexperienced team. They are new to club soccer and they are just looking for games to play, and we were happy to give them another game.”
The United racked up goals with ease against the lax Shelby defenders with four United players, including Bruce Beecher, Eric Olsen, Frank Lippy and Jake Myers, scoring two goals apiece to lead the way for the United.
A number of other players scored goals, including Drue Ita, Tyler Boyce, Chris Owens, Scott Geda, Taylor Ita, Alex Leyba and Jack Lynch.
Goalie Shiloh Barrett had a fairly inactive day because of the suffocating defense being applied by the United against Shelby. After not allowing any goals throughout the game, Barrett gave up a goal late in the contest to end the chance for a shutout.
“They (Shelby) actually scored a goal on us, which was kind of neat to see, because it gives their team a boost after struggling through a difficult season,” John Ita said. “It just goes to show you that even against a team like Shelby you can't make mistakes, because teams are going to capitalize on them.
“We played well defensively, but we need to execute a little better on offense, because we are getting a lot of opportunities that we aren't taking advantage of when we need to,” he added.
The second contest for the United on Saturday proved to be much more challenging as they were matched up against an athletically gifted Ravalli team.
The United got off to a very solid start with two goals from Drue Ita and a goal by Lynch. That, along with a stingy defense, gave the United, a solid 3-0 lead.
“They (Ravalli) were a really good team,” John Ita said. “They have a lot of great athletes and they are very fast and explosive. They definitely know how to score, but we played very good defense and we held them back a little bit.”
With a 3-0 lead, the United appeared to relax just slightly and Ravalli pounced on the opportunity by scoring two goals in less than five minutes to get itself back into the match.
“That's the one bad thing about getting an early 3-0 lead,” John Ita said. “Sometimes the kids tend to relax because they were able to take a three-goal lead. Then, because the team relaxed a little bit, Ravalli was able to get a couple of quick goals and all of a sudden we are in a tough game.”
Fortunately, the United was quickly awakened by the sudden rush of goals by the Ravalli club. Due to the great defense of Taylor Ita and the solid goaltending of Tyler Myers, the United was able to keep Ravalli from getting the equalizer goal and the United sealed the 3-2 victory.
“Taylor Ita had a great game on defense for us against Ravalli,” John Ita said. “He had a lot of blocks and interceptions and some that were in critical situations.
“Late in the game, Ravalli was attacking our goal, and our goalie Tyler Myers tried to block the shot but missed,” he said, “so there was an open net, but Taylor blocked the shot, stopping the tying goal and helping us hold on for the win.”
Other players who played well on the defensive end for the United included Chris Owens, Scott Geda, Drue Ita and Alex Leyba.
“Chris Owens really kind of stands out to me for the way he played,” John Ita said. “He gave up a lot of his offensive opportunities to help out on defense. He saw the need to pick up the slack for Drue Ita, because Drue has a bad back and he really stepped up. It really helps your team when you have a player that can play well on both offense and defense.”
The United will be at home once again this weekend, as it will take on Missoula at 11:45 a.m. and Butte at 3 p.m. at the High School Soccer Field. The Big Sky United club team also will be in action against Missoua and Butte on Saturday afternoon in Havre.