Columbia Falls soccer fans were treated to a pair of wins in the home openers for both the boys and girls Saturday as the Wildcats defeated Park 4-1 while the Wildkats also picked up a blowout win over the Rangers, 6-0.
The Wildcats jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first match of the day and scored two more goals late to pull away for a 4-1 victory.
“We played well for about half the game, which is better than we have done this season, but I can’t wait for us to put a whole game together. The fans are going to get to see something special once we figure that out,” head coach O’Brien Byrd said.
The teams combined to score three times in the opening six minutes as Johnny Carl got the Cats on the board first three minutes into the game before Jason Albin scored on an assist from Noah Golan to put Columbia Falls up 2-0 five minutes into the contest.
Tristan Stensetle scored Park’s only goal of the game at the six minute mark to cut the Wildcat lead to 2-1.
It would be just over an hour before the match’s next goal as Simon Magg found Niels Getts for a breakaway goal that pushed the Wildcat lead to 3-1 before Magg scored a goal of his own at the 75 minute mark to put Columbia Falls up 4-1.
Both teams had 11 saves in the contest as Story Stemborski led the Wildcats with eight while Bryce Dunham added three.
With the win, the Cats improve to 2-2 overall this season and 1-1 in conference play.
Josie Windauer scored her third hat trick of the season Saturday and Maddie Robison added two goals of her own as the Wildkats blew past the visiting Lady Rangers, 6-0.
“Maddie (Robison) has taken her game to a whole new level. She has been dominant and she looks like one of the best players in the state right now. Having both her and Josie (Windauer) on offense is real luxury as a coach,” head coach Thomas Clark said. “Cheyanne (Johnston-Heinz) has also taken her game to a new level as well.”
The Kats dominated the game from start to finish, putting 21 shots on goal to Park’s seven and scored three times in each half.
It took the Kats only two minutes to get on the scoreboard as Robison found Windauer for her first goal of the contest. Cheyanne Johnston-Heinz scored the second goal for the Kats on a pass from Flora Jarvis at the 11-minute mark and Robison scored on a pass from Windauer 38 minutes into the game to put Columbia Falls up 3-0 at the half.
Windauer scored twice in two minutes midway through the second half to push the Wildkat lead to 5-0 on assists from Johnston-Heinz and Kate Hatfield before Robison put the finishing touches on the win with a goal on an assist from Sydney Mann at the 55-minute mark.
A former goal keeper, Clark says he is always happy to see his team record a shutout.
“Our defense has stepped up all season. Flora Jarvis, Lexi Purcell and Graceanne Sevesind are all seniors. We have a veteran back line and it shows,” he said. “Ave is an underrated keeper and to get a shutout, it was very satisfying. We had a weird schedule to start the season, but to finally play a home game and get a win in front of our fans is a great feeling.”
With the win, the Kats improve to 4-0 this season.
Both teams will be in action across the state this weekend as they travel to take on Billings Central Friday and Laurel Saturday.
“We are going to get tested again this weekend as we take on the top two teams in the east,” Byrd said about the boys’ games. “I think we are better than they are. We just need to stick to our game plan and we should be in control.”
For the Wildkats, the road trip will include a matchup against the Lady Locomotives in Laurel, the team that knocked the Kats out of the playoffs a year ago.
“We try to take it one game at a time, but I would be lying if I didn’t say we have a bit of extra motivation to get a win against Laurel this weekend,” Clark said. “Billings Central and Laurel are two strong, really well-coached teams that play two different styles. They are both very dangerous teams and it will definitely be our toughest challenge to date. It really should be a playoff preview.”