From the soccer pitch at Legends Stadium, the top of Lone Pine State Park was barely visible two miles away. Despite the smoky setting, the Glacier Wolfpack and the Flathead Braves and Bravettes faced off in the second round of crosstown soccer matches of the season on Tuesday. Glacier swept a pair of one-sided wins against their Kalispell rivals.
The girls took the field first with the Wolfpack blanking the Bravettes 1-0. Glacier found the back of the net early before settling for the win in for a low scoring game. The win keeps the Wolfpack (5-2-0) on top of the Western AA standings with the Bravettes (3-2-2) in third behind Helena.
Despite a lone goal, the Wolfpack girls started off a night of momentum for the green and blue clad teams, as later in the evening the Braves were unable to hold off a high scoring Glacier as the Wolfpack set off to a strong first half lead and kept it, winning 7-3.
Glacier senior Braden Nitschelm started the action off early, bypassing the Braves defense and scoring in the 3rd minute. The Braves would respond less than a minute later, with senior Arsen Sokolov finding the back of the net to put Flathead on the board.
Glacier didn’t let the tie last for more than 60 seconds however, as junior Sullivan Coggins scored for the Wolfpack in the 4th minute. From there, it was all Glacier, with the Wolfpack controlling possession for most of the game and keeping the pressure on.
The Wolfpack piled on goals over the next 30 minutes of play to pull away throughout the first half with senior Parker Creer and freshman Joey Paolini each scoring once, freshman Hunter Lisowski putting away two goals and Coggins scoring in the 36th minute to put the Wolfpack up 7-1 going into halftime.
In the second half the Braves tried to claw their way to a comeback. Despite senior Timothy Weymouth scoring a pair of goals, the Braves were unable to make up the deficit, falling to Glacier 7-3.
In their first meeting this season on Aug. 27, the Wolfpack also swept both games, putting away the Braves 6-4 and the Bravettes 4-0.
With Tuesday’s win the Wolfpack boys (4-2-1) hold on to their second spot in Western AA behind Hellgate (7-0-0), while the Braves (2-5-0) are in sixth.
Pending good air quality, Flathead will next take the field against Hellgate on Sept. 17 and Glacier will face off against Butte on Sept. 18.
While the Kalispell teams took to the field on Tuesday, wildfire smoke from fires burning in California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington caused several high schools across western Montana to cancel or postpone games. Whitefish Activities Director Aric Harris announced via email just after noon on Tuesday that boys and girls soccer games against Bigfork were canceled due to poor air quality and would be rescheduled.
Soccer games in Missoula and Helena, as well as a cross country invitational in St. Ignatius, were all canceled. Glacier and Flathead opted to go ahead with their games despite air quality registering in the “Unhealthy” category by the start of the first match.
The Montana High School Association lists out guidelines for holding athletic activities in poor air quality. If air quality is rated “Unhealthy,” MHSA guidelines recommend officials “consider rescheduling or relocating events,” but they are allowed to go forward with added rest breaks and emergency medical support on site. Unhealthy air quality is classified as a particulate concentration of 55-150 μg/m3, or visibility of 2-5 miles.