After a tough battle with Polson and a blowout of Bigfork, it’s playoff time for Bulldogs soccer.
Whitefish is set to play the winner of Laurel vs. Billings Central, who faced off Tuesday after press time.
Earlier in the season, the Bulldogs faced both opponents on a road trip. Whitefish came away with a win over Laurel and tied with Billings.
“We’re very confident against both teams. We know them,” head coach John Lacey said. “We’ve always known that this season will be defined by what happens in the next few weeks. I think the guys are ready for it, we’ve learned a lot from the maturity of a team like Polson.”
Whitefish will play that game on Saturday, either at Laurel or at Billings Central.
On Thursday the Bulldogs hosted Polson in a Northwest A Conference showdown that had the potential to push Whitefish to the top of league standings.
Three first-half goals by Noah Romagnuolo, Xander Burger and Avery Hirsch had the Dogs up 3-1 and feeling good by halftime. But the Pirates weren’t done yet.
Polson’s Robin Erickson scored two of his four second-half goals in the first two minutes of the half, evening the match up before taking the lead in the 54th minute.
Linde Lambson added a final goal in the 75th minute for the 6-3 Polson win.
“Polson did this to us the first game too, they came out reinvigorated after halftime,” Lacey said. “They’re a mature team, they came out and got two right away and it definitely tilted momentum back.”
“We held with them for a while, but because of the result we needed we couldn’t settle with a 3-3 tie,” he added. “It was high risk, high reward, and we didn’t get the reward, we got extra goals scored on us.”
The Dogs got back at it on Saturday, where they took down Bigfork 9-2 for Senior Day.
Senior captains Hirsch and Romagnuolo finished with three and two goals respectively, and Leonardo Motti netted two of his own in the win.
Casey Schneider and Ian Lacey added to the scoring for Whitefish.
Lacey said he was happy to see his team come back and get the ball in the net on Saturday.
The key for Whitefish’s success this year has been scoring, and that will only become more important in the next few weeks of playoff soccer, he said.
“The motto this year has been goals win games, and we have to keep scoring,” he said. “We just gotta beat everybody at this point.”
Polson 1 5 — 6
Whitefish 3 0 — 3
W — Noah Romagnuolo (Xander Burger), 17:00
P — Bridger Wenzel (Linde Lambson), 28:00
W — Burger, 34:00
W — Avery Hirsch, pk, 36:00
P — Robin Erickson (Mack Moderie), 41:00
P — Erickson (Wenzel), 42:00
P — Erickson (Alex Wall-Wilbert), 54:00
P — Erickson (Wenzel), 73:00
P— Lambson (Moderie), 75:00
Shots on goal — Polson 13, Whitefish 8; Corner kicks — Polson 2, Whitefish 5; Goalie saves — Polson 5 (Russell Smith), Whitefish 7 (Colter Upton); Fouls — Polson 7, Whitefish 3; Cards — Polson, 1 yellow, Whitefish 1 yellow.
Whitefish 7 2 — 9
Bigfork 2 0 — 2
W — Avery Hirsch (A-Xander Burger), 5th min
W — Hirsch, 7th
B — Jeremy Herd (A-Benjamin Pilskains), 11th
W — Noah Romagnuolo (A-Burger), 18th
W — Leo Motti (A-Quinten Joos), 23rd
W — Hirsch (A-Burger), 25th
W — Ian Lacey (A-Romagnuolo), 26th
B — Adriano Concas, 28th
W — Casey Schneider, 35th
W — Romagnuolo, Q Joos, 60th
W — Motti, 65th
Shots on goal — Whitefish 16, Bigfork 8; Corner kicks — Whitefish 11, Bigfork 1; Saves — Whitefish 6 (Colter Upton & Marvin Kimera), Bigfork 7 (Conley); Fouls — Whitefish 6, Bigfork 3