Cats heading into soccer playoffs on a high note

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Preston Trenerry takes a shot against Libby in boys soccer action Thursday.

For the first time in a couple of years, the Columbia Falls boys soccer team will be playing in the post season.

The Wildcats thumped Libby at home on senior night Thursday, 9-2, to wrap up the regular season and take the second seed in the Northern A conference with a 7-4-1 overall record and a 6-2 conference mark.

Of the six seniors on the team, five of them scored and the sixth — keeper Story Stemborski — got an assist on a 60-yard boot to Mikey Tamburelli.

The Wildcats will now face Frenchtown in the first round of the state A playoffs Saturday on the road. Gametime is 1 p.m.

Coach O’Brien Byrd said the season has been a journey of 1,000 miles with this team. They started out hot with an opening win over Polson and then had a rough patch before finding focus at the tail end of the season.

One key change was moving defenseman Reed Sandstrom from left back to center back.

“It shored up a lot of our defense,” Byrd noted.

All-state goalie Stemborski went from seeing 20 shots a game to single digits.

Heading into postseason, Byrd said he likes where the team is at right now.

“We just have to stay healthy and stay focused,” he said. “Focus is the challenge.”

The Wildcats haven’t faced Frenchtown this year. Byrd said they traveled down south Saturday to watch them play Corvallis for the South Conference crown.

“They have a stingy defense,” he said of the Broncs.

If the Cats can win that game, they’d have home field throughout the remaining two playoff games and they’d face either Laurel or Polson in the semis.

Last Tuesday the Cats blanked Bigfork, 6-0. It was the Cats’ first shutout win of the season.

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