The Hamilton boys’ soccer team avenged their first round playoff loss to Libby last year with a 3-1 victory over the Loggers on Saturday. Hamilton will now host Polson in the semi finals. Polson has a record of 8-3-2 while Hamilton’s record is 10-1-2. That game will begin at noon.
Hamilton started the match with two of their captains, Joe Robinson and Dayce Moerkerke, sitting on the bench. Robinson has seen limited play this season after an injury last spring. Moerkerke was injured in the Stevensville game a week ago and is now sporting a knee brace.
“That was scary,” said Hamilton coach Randy Lint. “I was more nervous than normal but the boys had a lot of confidence. We scored and then we actually turned up the heat.”
Hamilton scored first when Karill Apedaile wove his way through the Libby team and booted in the goal at the 20 minute mark. Libby came back and tied the game 11 minutes later when Elias Lapka sent the ball to Talus Martin. But the Broncs didn’t lose their focus and five minutes later Cody Tredik shot the ball past the Libby keeper for the go-ahead goal. Hamilton scored once more, this time in the second half, off an own goal.
“I thought our defense was really strong,” said Lint. “That wet, slippery grass made the ball unpredictable.”
“We just wanted to come out and win,” said senior Nash Johnson. “We know that Libby is always going to be a good team and be physical.”
Hamilton took 20 shots on goal and Libby’s keeper, Rob Hamilton had two saves. Libby had five shots on goal. Hamilton’s keeper, Niall Gallagher Clancy had three saves. Libby had three corner kicks and Hamilton had six.
The Hamilton girls also hosted a first-round playoff game. They took on the Polson Pirates and defeated them, 4-0. Hamilton got on the board early in the first half when Bri Huggans passed to Jill Toews for the goal at the 15 minute mark. Huggans came right back and took a Casey Shifflett pass to the net for another goal two minutes later. The two, Shifflett and Huggans, switched roles when Huggans passed to Shifflett for a goal at the 35 minute mark. Huggans scored the final goal of the game at the 58 minute mark off of a Karissa Pfantz pass.
“Bri Huggans had two goals and two assists,” said coach Greg Shifflett. “She’s really matured, especially as a freshman.”
Coach Shifflett went on to say his team passed the ball very well and kept everyone focused and playing tough. Although he has some very experienced players on his team, he has worked at getting all the players into the game throughout the season.
“We’ve had some games in the conference to get the freshmen in so they could see about the games,” he said. “Now we’re getting them in some playoff games, it’s a whole different game.”
He had a freshman, Marina McGourty, playing keeper the first half. She had two saves while in the game. Martiah Rall came in and played keeper in the second half. She had seven saves. Polson’s Marisa Binder had nine saves. Hamilton took 21 shots on goal.
“Their keeper did a really good job and kept them in the game,” said Coach Shifflett. “She was their shining star.”
Casey Shifflett said her team loved the windy, rainy weather. “This is perfect soccer weather. We just wanted to go out there and player our hardest and play as a team.”
Casey Shifflett and her fellow seniors: Erin Loranger, Morgan Engenbretson, Kelsey Rocheleau, Meghan Kratofil, and Kara Wetzsteon, have not lost a conference game since they were freshmen. They have 53 straight conference wins. She said that although there was some pressure on them throughout the regular season, they just went and did their job and played to win. She admits the pressure to continue the streak was there but the team was able to focus on their playing well.
“Now, the playoffs are a whole new game for us,” she concluded.
Hamilton will play Whitefish at 2pm on Saturday. Hamilton enters the contest with a record of 11-2-0 while Whitefish has a record of 8-4-1. No passes will be honored for the games. Ticket prices are $7.00 for adults and $6.00 for students. Ticket sales will begin at 10:30am on Saturday.