Less than a year ago, the Hi-Line United U19 soccer team captured n exciting state championship for the program.
The United’s quest to repeat as state c
hampions now comes down to three days on the pitch in Great Falls. The United will begin defense of their state title at the U19 Classic Division state tournament, which runs Friday through Sunday in Great Falls.
The United enter the state tournament with an overall record of 7-6 on the season. In the Classic Division, the United are 7-2 this season.
The team has been busy preparing for the state tourney, playing four games over the last two weeks.
Back on May 19, the United road tripped to Billings for games against Lewistown and Big Timber. The Hi-Line team suffered a 2-1 loss to Lewistown in a match that saw Logan Pike score the lone goal for the United. The Hi-Line offense got chances in the loss, putting 20 shots on goal, but Lewistown’s goalie was up to the task. In the United net, keeper Taran Huestis saved eight of 10 shots on goal by Lewistown.
The second game in Billings saw the United bounce back with a 5-2 win over Big Timber. Pike had two goals in the win, while Jarrid Russell, Sam Lippy and Erik Woodwick also found the back of the net. Lippy, Pike and Woodwick also totaled assists while Huestis saved 10 Big Timber shots.
On their final road trip of the regular season, the United traveled to Hamilton. In the first of two matches in Hamilton, the United lost to the Ravalli Select by a score of 8-2. Pike scored both goals for the United, while Carlos Tovar and Lippy had assists. Huestis and Evan Flathers shared goal keeping duties in the loss.
“Ravalli is a very strong select team and we really did not go in expecting to win,” United assistant coach Pam Olson said. “We worked on staying focused and playing our game and we did a good job of both.”
The United were also supposed to play a Missoula select team in Hamilton, but that game was forfeited by Missoula, so the United took on Lewistown in a friendly. And the United was up to the task, defeating Lewistown 7-0. Heustis had four saves in shutout that saw the United play excellent defense, as well as an up-tempo offensive game.
Pike recorded a hat trick for the United, while Elijah David, Troy Mord, Woodwick and Matt Hodgson added goals in the victory.
“While this was just a friendly, it was an important match for us,” Olson said. “We had lost to them two weeks ago and we will see them at state so it was a great boost to our confidence to pull off a win and get back on track.”
And now the United take momentum into the state tourney. In the opening match, the United will face Miles City at 12 p.m. on Friday, then take on Lewistown at 8 a.m. on Saturday. Where the United end up in the championship bracket depends on the two results Friday and Saturday.