After a brilliant regular season, the Hi-Line United U-19 boys soccer team is the favorite to repeat this weekend in Butte
Chris Peterson Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
An already great season will all come down to one last weekend for the Hi-line United U-19 soccer team as it travels to Butte for the state tournament. The United will enter the tournament as the defending state champions, after knocking off Laurel last season to take home the state title in the U-19 division. “We have seven guys that were on the team that won the state title last year,” United head coach Tim Hagen said. “So I think they are looking at this as their last hurrah. “I feel pretty confident about our chances of winning another state title,” he added. “I think that if the kids show up and play the way they are capable of, we should have a pretty good shot.” If the United (12-2) is going to win a second straight title, it will have to go through a six-team field that will be split up into two different pools. The United will be in a pool with the Belgrade Rage and the Polson Sunami. The United will open the tournament on Saturday against a Belgrade team that it defeated twice during the regular season. That game is at 10 a.m. The United will play again on Saturday against Polson at 2 p.m. “We are pretty familiar with the Belgrade Rage,” Hagen said. “We beat them twice during the regular season, but we don’t know anything about Polson because we didn’t have a chance to see them in the season.” The other pool features a strong Miles City team that defeated the United during the regular season, as well as a team from Livingston. The top two teams from each pool will advance into the semifinals, which will take place on Sunday at noon. The winners of the semifinal games will meet in the championship game at 2 p.m. on Sunday, while the two losing teams will play in the consolation game, which will also be at 2 p.m. “The first two games are going to be really important because if you lose them both you are going to be eliminated,” Hagen said. “It’s also important how many goals you score, because if it comes down to a tiebreaker, the number of goals scored will determine who moves on.” The United, a very veteran club, will be led into action by top goal scorers Chris Owens and Eric Olsen. Jordan Hagen and Taylor Ita have also been key players on the offensive end of the field. “Chris and Eric have been my best goal scorers this season,” Hagen said. “Jordan has been a good scorer and distributor and Taylor has played really well in the middle of the field for us all season long.” Tyler Myers is a second-year goalie for the United and has shown all season long that he is one of the top keepers in the state. “Tyler has been a really solid goaltender for us all season,” Hagen said. “He has been doing what he is supposed to be doing.” Other contributors on the team include Scott Geda, Chris Cote and Tyler Boyce. “I think that along with us Miles City is probably one of the teams to beat in this tournament,” Hagen said. “But if everyone on our team shows up ready to play, I really think we have a good chance to go all the way.” The United finished the regular season last weekend with easy wins over Whitehall and Dillon in Great Falls. Against the Whitehall Spyderz, the United scored 10 goals while giving up just one. Owens, Myers and Isaac Hutton each scored two goals in the easy win. Later on in the day, the United thrashed the Dillon Mirage 12-1. Myers had three goals in the win, while Olson and Adrian Doll scored twice. The Hi-line United will play on Saturday at 10 a.m. against Belgrade and 2 p. m. against Polson. If the United advance to Sunday they will play at noon and 2 p. m.