Girls face Central for soccer championship

Photos by David Keyes. LHS senior girls are ready to face Central in the state championship Saturday. The senior are as shown clockwise: Caitlyn Novak, Megan Mosby, Carlie McGrath, and Paige O’Toole.

By David Keyes
Outlook publisher

The Locomotives girls’ soccer team braved frigid temperatures and a tough defense as they pushed past Hamilton 1-0 Saturday to earn a spot in the state championship game.
This will be Laurel’s fourth state championship game in a row as they face Billings Central for the third time during that run.
The game starts at 11 a.m. and is on the Rocky Mountain College grass soccer pitch.
Central topped Columbia Falls 3-1 in the other semifinal.
“The score against Hamilton wasn’t representative of of how well I think the match went,” said head coach Aloma Jess. “We did a good job of controlling the ball and the match much of the time.”
The only goal of the game came as a result of Aspen Cotter late in the first half.
Hamilton boasted the best defense in the state and only allowed eight goals all season.
“We knew coming in that Hamilton had a very strong defense. We knew we were going to have to keep moving off the ball and keep taking our shots when they were available,” said coach Jess.
The team had to fight through some frustration and keep at it until they could break through – much like they will have to do with Central.
“We look forward to Redemption Day versus Central!,” said coach Jess. “I know the girls are eager to play them again and redeem themselves from the last match against them and not to mention last year’s championship There is a fire burning in their bellies over last year for sure.”
Laurel’s four seniors are ready to play with captain Carlie McGrath and Paige O’Toole anchoring a defense that will have to slow down a fast Central squad.
“Paige has been our rock star goal keeper since she was a freshman and we won the state championship that same year in 2014. Time flies and now she is a senior and has greatly improved her craft as a solid keeper. As her coach, I never really have to worry about the abilities and mind set of my goalie - Paige is skilled and strong,” she said
“Carlin McGrath has been a solid defender since her freshman year as well. Carlie has a contagious positive attitude and she has worked very hard as a team captain this year. I don’t like talking about her being a senior either,” she said.
“We know that Central is a strong offensive team and we all need to do our defensive part on the field and anticipate their every move. We need to play our game with tenacity and confidence and take care of the ball. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain in this match,” she said.

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