The wide variety of sports found at the prep level does not appeal to everybody. And in Montana, small-town Montana especially, it is obvious that football and basketball continue to reign supreme.
But what about the world’s game, what about soccer?
The game of soccer can be found all over the globe, hence the nickname of the world’s game. Its appeal has shown the power to bring continents and countries together, and has really left its mark on the United States over the last decade as team USA continues to mold into a threat in all the major tournaments including FIFA.
But on a much smaller scale, Montana is definitely behind the curve when it comes to integrating soccer into city leagues and school programs. It has rapidly grown in recent years and will most likely continue to growin Montana, but while it continues to slip under the radar, there are talented athletes flooding the pitch every weekend to perform in front a select group of fans.
The Hi-Line United U19 coed team is one of the best examples of the growing success soccer is having in Montana.
The United had a standout season, which ended with an overall record of 11-2-1 and a state championship. They house some of the best players on the Hi-Line and in the state, and will hopefully give the sport some local credibility with their newfound success.
Personally, I was very impressed with what the United were able to accomplish. Under first-year head coach Briyan Flores, the United took huge steps this season. And being the soccer fan that I am, I wasn’t able to watch as many of their games as I would have liked, but what I saw was always positive.
Their style of play was fun to watch. With players such as Payton Robertson, who led the team in scoring most of the season, a lack of excitement wasn’t an issue. But the United didn’t rush anything; instead they played a very controlled game, something most teams at the high school level struggle to do at times.
I know soccer isn’t going to take over Montana overnight, or probably even ever. But soccer is storming onto the scene and is worth stopping and taking a look at.
For now soccer remains in the shadow of other spring sports, but it is growing up. The United have me, as well as others won over, and if the Hi-Line United continue to bring in top talent and continue to find the type of success they did this season, they will only help their cause and hopefully find their fan base growing.
Here's to a great season of soccer on the Hi-Line. May there be many more.