In a State A quarterfinal soccer match at Polson, the visiting (Missoula) Loyola Rams and the host Pirates matched the other stride for stride through the opening quarter of the first half in a 1-1 tie. Polson leading scorer Mack Moderie found the net off an assist from Robin Erickson two minutes in to stake the Pirates to a goal advantage, but Loyola’s Austin Ogilvie countered to knot the score at one apiece.
The Pirates stepped up the pace the final five minutes of the half and netted two more goals, the second tally by Moderie off an assist from Davis Smith and a Nico River nylon nudger off a feed from Bridger Wenzel to take a 3-1 advantage into intermission.
River connected again four minutes into the second half with a header goal that redirected a crossbar ricochet initiated by Robin Erickson. Loyola’s Clayton Ogilvie countered several minutes later to maintain the margin of a two-goal deficit.
But thereafter, the foot finesse of the Pirates painted the picture of this playoff from a decisive Polson perspective when Erickson, Wenzel and Erickson again tacked on three more goals. Ram all-state midfielder Jack Lincoln header hammered the final tally off a crossbar ricochet by Will Burns, but the deficit that remained would stay insurmountable.
Though Pirate coach Adam Fansher thought his team played well overall, “We didn’t (capitalize upon) our chances early. But once we got rolling late in the first half, it was good for us.”
Next on Polson’s slate is a rendezvous with the defending state A champion, Eastern A top-seeded Belgrade Panthers on Saturday. Reflecting on the win, Fansher conceded that, “We are still making mistakes...and will need to improve if we are going to get a (favorable) result in Belgrade.”
State A quarterfinal
Polson 7, Loyola 3
(2N) Polson (12-1-1), (2S) Loyola (5-7-1)
P – g Mack Moderie (a Robin Erickson) 2’
L – g Austin Ogilvie (a Gharret Diehl) 22’
P – g Moderie (a Davis Smith) 36’
P – g Nico River (a Bridger Wenzel) 38’
P – g River hdr (a R.Erickson xbar) 43’
L – g Clayton Ogilvie (a Liam Lechner) 49’
P – g R. Erickson (a Moderie) 56’
P – g Wenzel (a Xavier Stalkfleet dk) 61’
P – g R. Erickson (a Smith) 67’
L – g Jack Lincoln hdr (a Will Burns xbar) 75’
Shots-(on-GOAL) – L19sh(10sog), P28sh(20sog)
SAVES – L7h9sv (Daniel Kaleva 9), P10h5sv(Kaden Nelson 5)
CORNERS, FOULS, CARDS – *L5ck, P5ck; L9f, P17f; na.
Pinvid sh(SOG) – Moderie 7(5) ; R.Erickson 10(8):(xbar43’ricochet); River 4(3); B.Wenzel 5(3); D.Smith 1; Tray Lichtenberg (1).
Lindiv sh(SOG) – A.Ogilvie 3(2); C.Ogilvie (1); Lincoln 6(4); L.Lechner 2(1); Zack Tyree 5(1); Gharret Diehl 1; W.Burns (1):(xbar75’ricochet).
Psideline specs: Nico (2), Bridger 2, Robin 5, Mack 4(2), Tray 1.
ACRONYM KEY: h (= handle intervention by gk not considered a shot)
Northern A play-in match
Pirates scratch out shootout win over Wildcats
Polson 3, Columbia Falls 2 (SO 6-5)
At Polson in the Northern A play-in match, visiting third seed Columbia Falls and the host second-seeded Pirates engaged in a soccer slugfest with the survivor advancing into the quarterfinals. Polson had swept the regular schedule series, but from the way this third encounter played out, one would never have know that had been the case. The blustery north wind often played a role much like a 12th player.
The Cats connected first when Jason Albin scored off a feed from Payton Fisher in the 17th minute. The Pirates would counter in the 36th minute when Mack Moderie found net off a through ball delivered by Bridger Wenzel.
In the 45th minute, Robin Erickson had a potent shot-on-goal which the keeper deflected out into traffic. The ball was perched percariously, but sophomore defender Tyler Hull cleared the ball out of harm’s way. Then in the 62nd minute, Wenzel unloaded on the keeper from point-blank range off a sweet feed from Erickson, but Cat keeper Story Stemborski kept the box unlittered with a spectacular salvage that saved a goal.
Columbia Falls would reacquire the lead 2-1 after a Polson foul when Noah Golan lofted a direct kick salvo into the red zone area, which Fisher redirected with a header. The ball would carrom off a Polson defender past the keeper for the a crucial go-ahead goal in a tightly contested battle. The Cat sideline statisticians scored the play as a goal by their player, but the perspective of the sideline judge evaluated the turn of events as an “own goal.”
The Pirates would net the equalizer five minutes later when Nico River lofted the ball between traffic right into the lane of a speeding Erickson, who finished off the delicious dish with the dessert of tickling the twine for a 2-2 tie.
In the first overtime, the first turn of events was a foul by the Cats that sent league-leading scorer Moderie to the turf, forcing him to exit the game limping. The Polson trainer was able to weave some magic, for Moderie was able to reenter toward the close of the first overtime period with no discernible ill effects. The second overtime saw only a single bonefide scoring prospect for each team, both saved by the keeper. The tie would then precipitate a shootout from the penalty mark.
The first five attempts by both sides would evade the intervention of Cat keeper Stemborski and counterpart, the veteran Pirate keeper, Xavier Stalkfleet. Senior midfielder Keyan Dalbey would take the sixth kick, drilling it by the diving Stemborski. Pirate keeper Stalkfleet would snuff the Albin kick attempt with a block, thereby allowing Polson to advance by the narrowest of margins in recent memory. Polson advances to the quarterfinal.
Polson 3, Columbia Falls 2 (SO 6-5)
Polson (7-1-1N, 11-1-1), C.Falls (4-5N, 5-8)
C-Falls 1 1 – 2 0 0 (5kfpm) = 2
Polson 1 1 – 2 0 0 (6kfpm) = 3
CF – g Jason Albin (a Payton Fisher) 17’
P – g Mack Moderie (a Bridger Wenzel) 36’
CF – g Fisher hdr (a Noah Golan dk) 70’
P – g Robin Erickson (a Nico River) 75’
Shots-(on-GOAL) – CF18sh(13sog), P21sh(12sog)
SAVES – CF8sv+4h (Story Stemborski 8sv), P10sv+23h (Kaden Nelson 10sv, Xavier Stalkfleet 1so)
CORNERS – CF3, P3. FOULS – CF4+3ot, P8+1ot . CARDS – CF1y (Fisher).
Kick from penalty mark (kpfm) shootout (so) results
P1 – #13 Mack Moderie scored (1-0)
CF1 – #15 John Gilk scored (1-1)
P2 – #3 Nico River scored (2-1)
CF2 – #3 Payton Fisher scored (2-2)
P3 – #10 Bridger Wenzel scored (3-2)
CF3 – #8 Noah Golan scored (3-3)
P4 – #4 Davis Smith scored (4-3)
CF4 – #4 Johnny Carl scored (4-4)
P5 – #11 Robin Erickson scored (5-4)
CF5 – #10 Dillon Wanner scored (5-5)
P6 – #5 Keyan Dalbey scored (6-5)
CF6 – #5 Jason Albin blocked (6-5)
Pindiv sh(SOG) – Wenzel 5(4); R. Erickson 7(6):(hdr68’); Moderie 5(1); River 2(1); Davis Smith 1; Keith Erickson 1: over30’hdr.
CFindiv sh(SOG) – Fisher (4); Gilk 6(4); Albin 2(1); Golan 3(2); Reed Sandstrom 2(1); Johnny Carl (1)). (Tu09Oct18)
ACRONYM KEY: h (handle = intervention by keeper, but insufficient momentum to pose a threat unless left unattended)
Lady Pirates plundered, plummet from plank in play-in match
By JOHN HEGLIE
Special for the Leader
At Whitefish in the Northern A girls’ play-in match, round three would advance Whitefish on into the quarterfinals while slamming the door on Polson’s postseason prospects, 4-0.
Though trailing only by a single-goal deficit at intermission, the Lady Pirates struggled in the second half to counter the aggressive, attacking mindset of the Lady Bulldogs, whose ball possessions would ultimately favor the host team by a better than 3:1 ratio.
Reduced roster depth due to extenuating circumstances may have had some impact on Polson’s late-game endurance levels, but absent members may have left a bigger hole in the confidence between comrades to compete, a crucial component when vying to advance in postseason playoffs.
Polson graduates one lone senior, Ashlee Howell, who wraps up her fall MHSA prep career with 45 goals (+1kfpm) and 52 assists.
Northern A PLAY-IN
Whitefish 4, Polson 0
Polson (7-5-1), Whitefish (8-5)
Polson 0 0 – 0
Whitefish 1 3 – 4
W – g Emma Barron 9’
W – g Ali Hirsch (a Anna Cook) 58’
W – g Olivia Potthoff (a Barron) 59’
W – g Abby Lowry (a Grace Benkelman) 77’
Shots on GOAL – P5, W40
SAVES – P26 (Kallie Finkbeiner), W3 (Sami Galbraith);
CORNERS – P0, W3; FOULS – na. CARDS – none.