Hawks Soccer Finally Takes the Championship After A Three Year Drought
Adele Gammill – Reporter
Winning the state title this season was a must for the boys’ soccer team.
For the past three years, the team has come in third place. They had had enough of falling short, and the motivation and pressure was greater than ever. The mentality going into the state playoffs was simple: to win.
But early in the season, the Hawks faced an unexpected setback. Leading scorer Aspen Klein suffered a knee injury and would be out for the season. But even with Klein not in the picture, the Hawks were confident about a shot at the state championship.
Going into the state weekend, which took place in Helena during the weekend of Oct 27, the Hawks had maintained an undefeated 15-0 record.
“That really created motivation, especially for the seniors. It’s their final year and they wanted something to remember and that gave the whole team an extra drive to win the state championship” says junior Nathan McOmber.
The team left for Helena on Thursday; that same day they played Helena Capital. The Hawks defeated the Bruins in a blowout win 6-0.
The next day, played Helena High and defeated them 3-0, putting the Hawks in the state championship game against Missoula Hellgate, who have won the state title three years in a row. The Hawks had lost to Hellgate the year before in the semi-final round.
McComber says that on the morning of the final game, head coach Hunter Terry held a team meeting.
“He talked to the team about what mattered and didn’t matter. He told us that everything that has happened in the past doesn’t matter; what does matter is now. He also mentioned how the seniors have really stepped up into leadership roles, which is something they have lacked in the past,” McOmber says.
Before kick off, the team told each other: don’t look at Hellgate. Don’t think about what they can do; think about what we can do.
When it came to kickoff there was one crucial thought going through the players’ heads: It’s time for redemption.
“Once we scored our first goal that got everyone going, got everyone hyped and feeling good, and getting in the mentality of we could win this. Then we scored our second goal, right before the half, we were pretty comfortable with that. Coach Terry told us that 2-0 at half time is one of he most dangerous leads so don’t think you’re going to win yet,” McComber remembers.
“When the second half began, we continued to dominate the game on all sides of the field. There was a point when Hellgate scored their goal in the last ten minutes and the team and the people in the stands started to get anxious, because we were starting to lose control of the game. But once the final two minute hit, and we were still up 2-1, and we wee keeping them out of our box, and they weren’t getting very many opportunities with the ball, at that point we knew we were going to win.”
When the buzzer went off, the team went crazy. They jumped and screamed and some seniors even cried. It was a moment of redemption. This is the fifth state title win for Hawks soccer since 2012. (They had won it three years in a row, from 2012 to 2014.)
McComber says that the state final was the best game the team played all season.
“We just came together as a team. Even the people on the bench were lifting up the team and being extremely supportive, and loud. Beating Hellgate after all these years was like redemption and it felt good finally knocking them off, and preventing them from winning what would be their fourth state title,” McOmber says, adding, “It was a great moment.”