Glacier Soccer Teams Advance in State Tournament

Wolfpack boys stun Flathead, girls breeze past Butte

By Andy Viano
Glacier keeper Sophie Smith sends the ball downfield during a 3-2 Wolfpack victory against Flathead at Legends Stadium on Sept. 5, 2019. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Junior Braden Nitschelm scored in the 78th minute and the Wolfpack felled their crosstown rivals 2-1 on Tuesday night at Legends Stadium to reach the quarterfinals of the Class AA state tournament.

Glacier (7-4-4) had lost four matches in a row to the Braves, but a surge in the second half of Tuesday’s contest propelled them to their first win against Flathead since 2017. Trailing 1-0 at halftime, senior Micah Heil tied the match in 51st minute and the score was still tied with two minutes remaining when Nitschelm potted his 10th goal of the year off an assist from Sam Ells.

The loss marked a second straight heartbreaking end to the season for the Braves (7-7-1), who lost on a penalty kick in overtime in the opening round of the 2018 playoffs. Flathead finished the regular season with a higher point total than the Wolfpack, earning the fourth seed but a negligible home-field advantage in Tuesday’s match. Senior A.J. Apple scored the Braves’ first-half goal. The loss ended the careers of eight Flathead seniors, including their three leading scorers, Apple, Eric Gardner and Jalen Hawes.

Glacier will likely be on the road for the rest of the state tournament, beginning with a match on Saturday, Oct. 26 at Billings Senior (11-2-0). The Broncs blew out Belgrade 7-1 on Tuesday. Saturday’s quarterfinal match is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.

In girls action, top-seeded Glacier breezed past Butte earlier Tuesday afternoon at Legends Stadium, scoring four times in the first half and coasting to a 4-0 win. The Wolfpack (10-4-1) have home-field advantage throughout the state tournament and will host Great Falls C.M. Russell (6-7-0) on Oct. 26 at 1 p.m. at Glacier High School.

Meanwhile, Flathead’s girls came up short in their postseason opener on Tuesday, losing 4-0 at Helena High. The Bravettes (6-7-2) graduate three seniors but will return the state’s leading scorer, Skyleigh Thompson, who finishes her junior year with 24 goals and 11 assists.

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