Veteran keeper Luke Turner caught the attention of Kanon Tebo with a quick holler of his name and then booted the ball nearly the entire distant of the pitch.
Tebo sprinted under it following a high bounce with a pair of defensemen in tow, gathered in the ball, and then scored on his ensuing shot.
It was the last of four goals Belgrade scored Saturday afternoon on a snow drenched field at the Belgrade Youth Sports Complex, and sealed a 4-0 state Class A quarterfinal victory against Hamilton.
“Not a lot of teams are ready for the big ball, especially when you get the back spin on it and it’s pretty straight and accurate,” Turner, who picked up his third assist of the season while also posting his state record 16th shutout in goal, said. “Get a lucky bounce, and it goes the right way, you get a goal.”
The two-time defending state champions advanced to the semifinals for a sixth straight season and will host Polson (11-1-1), a 7-3 winner against Missoula Loyola, next Saturday.
“Six years, yeah, we’re pretty happy about that,” longtime Belgrade coach Ric Plante said. “I don’t know who we have. I’m guessing it will be Polson. We played them in the semi here last year and they’re going to be really, really tough.”
Tebo scored twice in the victory, including a goal less with less than four off the clock. EJ Dewell sent a cross into the box in front of the right post and keeper Daniel Schlender was unable handle the save. Once it squirted loose, Tebo scored easily.
“You ask any coach and say, ‘Will you take a goal the first three minutes? You bet,’” said Plante. “Obviously the conditions were horrible. Their keeper mishandled it a little bit and we were able to poke it in.”
Belgrade (9-1-3) added goals in the 25th and 28th minutes by Nicolas Buendia and Tyler Monlux to stretch the lead to 3-0. But it was the Broncs who were controlling the match early on.
“A lot of credit to Hamilton. I thought they played really well,” said Plante. “First 15, 20 minutes they controlled the possession, but when we got the second goal things started to turn our way.”
The Panthers also clamped down defensively, limiting Hamilton to just eight shots en route to posting their sixth shutout of the season.
“Nathan’s (Haycock) doing a great job at the holding midfield position. You take those four guys, and Nathan and Luke, that’s six solid guys back there that we feel really confident about,” said Plante. “They had a few chances, but I don’t think they had anything that was real dangerous.”
While Belgrade has reached the past four championship matches, players know they’ll face a stiff challenge in the semifinals against the Pirates.
“I think we’re going to have Polson coming in and we took them out in the semifinal last year, so they’re going to be coming in with some heat,” said Turner. “But if we want to get back to the final we have to take it one game at a time.”
BHS, Morgan top Missoula Loyola
It wasn’t until after the match that Mariah Morgan was informed of the accomplishment Saturday afternoon.
The Belgrade senior not only scored a hat trick in a 5-1 state Class A quarterfinal victory against Missoula Loyola, but she broke the program record for goals in a season as well.
Morgan scored goals in the 15th, 51st and 67th minutes, and her second goal broke the record of 19 set by Shelby Erdahl in 2011. She now has 21 and counting as the Panthers advance to the semifinal round of the playoffs.
“I didn’t know about it, but I just figured that if I try my best and then maybe I could get something like that,” said Morgan. “I know my freshman year I had some record happen for freshmen goals, so it was really exciting to hear about that.”
Belgrade (9-2-2) will travel to defending state champion Laurel next Saturday. The Locomotives (11-1-1) rallied to beat Columbia Falls, 2-1, in overtime Saturday.
Hayden Cade scored a pair of goals for the Panthers in the victory, while Sarah Marshall assisted on all three of the team’s second half scores.
But fourth-year coach Celine Valentin noted it took a while for her team to settle into the contest.
“We actually didn’t have a great first half. I think we were lucky to escape with a 2-1 lead going into halftime,” she said. “What the scoreline didn’t show is that Liz (Gilbertson) had two goalline clearances in the first half. The ball was literally there on the line and she was there at the last second, which definitely saved us.”
On the first clearance, a Missoula Loyola striker beat a pair of defenders and then got off a soft shot past keeper Abbey Cady. Gilbertson cleared it off the line to maintain Belgrade’s 1-0 lead.
“Usually if it gets tied or we get down that changes the morale of the game,” said Gilbertson. “But because of it it really pumped everyone up and we kept playing our game.”
On the second clearance, Cady tipped the ball up in the air on a cross by the near post and then Gilbertson headed it out of danger.
“Then we got it up and we got it to our forward,” Gilbertson explained. “We held it and then we kept them on their half for a while after that.”
At halftime, Valentin instructed her team to posses the ball, find feet and make good decisions.
“Once we got into that rhythm they couldn’t catch us,” she said.
Belgrade 4, Hamilton 0
Hamilton 0 0 - 0
Belgrade 3 1 - 4
Bel - Kanon Tebo (EJ Dewell), 4th
Bel - Nicolas Buendia (unassisted), 25th
Bel - Tyler Monlux (Buendia), 28th
Bel - Tebo (Luke Turner), 44th
Shots: Ham 8, Bel 13. CK: Ham 5, Bel 6. Fouls: Ham 5, Bel 5. Saves: Ham 4 (Daniel Schlender), Bel 7 (Turner).
Belgrade 5, Missoula Loyola 1
Belgrade 2 3 - 5
Loyola 1 0 - 1
Bel - Mariah Morgan (Dalani Brayton), 15th
Bel - Hayden Cade (unassisted), 30th
ML - Sydney Voppang (Lani Walker), 31st
Bel - Morgan (Sarah Marshall), 51st
Bel - Morgan (Marshall), 67th
Bel - Cade (Marshall), 74th
Shots: Bel 13, ML 16. CK: Bel 9, ML 9. Fouls: Bel 4, ML 1. Saves: 11 (Abbey Cady), ML 7 (Megan Neuman).