Although Belgrade lost its fourth consecutive match, and was shut out for the sixth time this season, second-year head coach Carl Bridwell saw positive strides Tuesday in Bozeman.
Several tactical changes led to better chemistry on the pitch, and Belgrade had dangerous attacks in an Eastern AA match against the Hawks.
“We had pressure on them, we were moving as a team, we were distributing the ball well,” said Bridwell.
Bozeman (8-2-0) scored a goal in each half en route to a 2-0 victory, but Bridwell was pleased with the effort put forth by his team.
“It was good to feel like we made a team uncomfortable with our own play,” he said. “That was a positive that we talked about at the end of the game.”
To create some better chemistry, Bridwell moved Mackenzie Turner out of goal to a forward position. He also paired Sarah Tadvik with Katelin Monlux along the back line, while backup keeper Maya Amundson started in goal.
“I would say this was Sarah Tadvik’s probably best game of the season where she had the most fun, but also the most calm she has been all season,” said Bridwell.
The tactical moves paid dividends for much of the match, but the Hawks still found the back of the net on a goal by Ursula Vlases in the 10th minute.
“They just kind of hit that perfect point of sun and ball right in there and Maya just kind of lost it, did her best,” Bridwell explained. “Not like a chip, but just couldn’t control it.”
Belgrade (1-8-2) nearly tied the contest in the first half, but Dalani Brayton was unable to finish on one of the team’s best scoring opportunities.
“Dalani had a great through ball from Peyton (Robertson). Got around AJ (Battle), their goalkeeper, and just couldn’t put it home,” said Bridwell. “So they were on the back foot. I would say Bozeman was definitely uncomfortable in this game.”
The Hawks added an insurance goal in the 70th minute when Payton Putnam scored following a corner kick.
Bozeman outshot the Panthers 22-9, and Amundson finished with 13 saves.
Belgrade is back in action Saturday hosting Gallatin.
Panthers boys stumble in second half
For the second consecutive match, Belgrade was very much in contention early Tuesday night. But Bozeman scored seven second half goals en route to a 9-0 victory.
It was a nearly identical collapse to Saturday’s match against Billings West when Belgrade trailed just 2-0 at halftime before losing 9-1.
“We just break down and can’t execute anything after half and I’m not sure why,” Belgrade coach Sydney McCauley said.
The Panthers held their ground in the first half, and keeper Shay Schoolcraft made several key saves. But things fell apart in the second half.
“Our defensive line was super solid in the first half,” said McCauley. “And then we lost two of our starters for the second half.”
Belgrade returns to action Saturday hosting Gallatin, and McCauley plans for the team to go back to the fundamentals this week in practice.
“Break down the fundamentals, get that on track, and then we can build from there,” she said.
Bozeman 2, Belgrade 0
Belgrade 0 0 - 0
Senior 1 1 - 2
Boz - Ursula Vlases (unassisted), 10th
Boz - Payton Putnam (unassited), 70th
Shots: Bel 9, Boz 22. CK: Bel 2, Boz 7. Fouls: Bel 6, Boz 5. Saves: Bel 13, (Maya Amundsen), Boz 6 (AJ Battle).
Bozeman 9, Belgrade 0
Belgrade 0 0 - 0
Bozeman 2 7 - 9
Scoring and stats were unavailable.