United U19 club runs into tough home matches
Last updated 6/9/2014 at 11:22am
Playing two games at home over the weekend, the Hi-Line United U19 soccer team ran into two teams that made very solid cases for possibly being two of the state’s best for a second consecutive season.
Last year, the Big Timber Wolves won the Classic state championship, while the Sidney Strikers were last year’s Classic runner-up. The United hosted both of those squads Saturday at the Havre High School soccer fields and suffered two tough losses. Saturday morning, Big Timber narrowly beat out the United 2-1. Saturday evening, Sidney’s strong offensive attack resulted in a 5-1 win over the United.
The losses come just one week before the state tournament in Billings as the United are in the hunt for their first title win since 2012.
In the loss to the reigning champs, the United played well for the majority of the match.
In the first 10 minutes they came out strong and really put the pressure on the Wolves’ defense to come up with some impressive stops. But the momentum shifted back and forth in the first half, as Big Timber also had several shots on goal and forced the United defense to tighten up and play well. The first half ended in a 0-0 tie as Spencer Obressley looked sharp as the United keeper, but Elijah David did have a shot on goal in the 21st minute, while the United also had a goal scoring opportunity in the 36th minute on a corner kick. In the 38th minute, on another corner kick, Matt Hodgson got his head on the ball and missed just wide right of the goal.
The second half began with a bang, but that bang came on a goal by the Wolves in the 50th minute. Down the stretch the Wolves controlled the middle of the field and made it very hard for the United to get any offensive pressure down field. But after battle in the first half, and more of a dormant second half, the game had an exciting end.
Trailing 1-0, the United were able to tie the match at 1-1 in the 80th minute. The goal came on a beautiful strike by Trey Scofield just outside the box on a late free kick. The momentum had shifted in favor of Hi-Line, but a late penalty kick was called in favor of Big Timber as the United committed a foul in the box as the Wolves were en route of a transition goal. The Wolves converted the penalty kick and escaped Havre with a 2-1 defeat of the Untied.
Game two of the weekend also resulted in a loss for the United, this time 5-1 to a hot Sidney Strikers program. The Strikers defeated Big Timber 6-2 earlier in the day, as well as defeated the United 4-2 last weekend. The Strikers looked like the team to beat this season, as their offensive attack was fast, strong, and accurate with shots on goal.
In the opening three minutes on the pitch the Strikers already had three shots on goal against Obressley and a 1-0 lead. Obressley made a couple of great saves early, but it was just a matter of time before the Strikers broke the match wide open. The one-goal deficit quickly turned into a two-goal deficit as Sidney scored again at the 13-minute mark. And when a team gets hot on the pitch, it is hard to stop them. The Strikers scored again in the 15th minute, the 28th minute on a penalty kick, and in the 34th minute to lead 5-1 in the first half.
The United’s goal came in the 14th minute when Scofield scored off of deflection after David sent in a left-footed cross. But the offensive attack just wasn’t there for the United in the late game as they struggled to keep the ball off of Sidney’s feet and out of the back of the net.
There was a late goal opportunity for David and the United in the final seconds of the match, but they were unable to convert the penalty kick. The miss was followed by the final whistle, and the loss.
Goals may not have flooded in for the United Saturday in Havre, but they did show signs of coming together at the right time. When the United got out in transition, Scofield, Mitch Woods, David, Kiana Robertson, Angelo Flores, and Hodgson all showed they could make the right reads and runs. If they can get the right touch or a good strike, the goals should come at the state tournament. And the defense looked strong at times behind Desmond Fialkosky and goalie Obressley, but there is work to be done there as well.
The United will play at the state tournament in Billings this weekend. They open with two games on Friday, facing Big Timber and Laurel.