Cats soccer squad splits pair against Whitefish, Polson

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Niels Getts puts in a penalty kick for a goal in the second half Thursday against Polson. (Jeremy Weber/Hungry Horse News)

The Wildcats soccer squad showed grit and resolve last week as they suffered a tough 1-0 loss to rival Whitefish Tuesday before grinding out a 2-1 win against Polson Thursday.

The Cats held top-ranked Whitefish scoreless for 54 minutes Tuesday before Sam Menicke scored the game’s only goal on an assist from Brandon Mendoza.

“We may have lost, but it was an exciting game,” head coach O’Brien Byrd said. “Whitefish is the only team we’ve faced this season where we had to tactically adjust our game plan. We played Bigfork on Saturday and threw all these changes on our players on Monday and they were able to execute them almost flawlessly Tuesday. I was very proud of this team.”

Columbia Falls had its chances, putting four shots on goal, but the Wildcats could not find the back of the net.

Keeper Story Stemborski finished the night with 10 saves while the defense of Reed Sandstrom, Mikey Tamburelli, Tyler Hull, Preston Trenerry and Finley Sundberg kept the Bulldog offense mostly in check.

“They are the best team in the state. To beat a team like that, you have to change everything about how you play and execute perfectly and get a little bit of luck,” Byrd said. “We almost got them.”

A penalty kick goal by Niels Getts was the difference Thursday as they Cats survived a close call at home against Polson to earn a 2-1 victory.

Simon Magg gave the Wildcats a 1-0 lead six minutes in on an assist by Johnny Carl, but Polson’s Kaden Nelson answered in the 14th minute to tie things up.

Getts scored on his penalty kick with a minute remaining in the first half and neither team was able to score in the final 41 minutes.

Stemborksi finished with nine saves.

“The Whitefish game took a lot out of us physically, emotionally and mentally. We were drained from that game when we took on Polson, but we got the win,” Byrd said. “Polson is also a conference rival and we knew it was going to be competitive and tough. We were able to get the win, and that’s what counts.”

The Cats beat Bigfork on Tuesday 6-0.

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