Will Mauritsen scored on a PK with just over a minute remaining Saturday afternoon to lead Belgrade to a thrilling rally at Amend Park.
Trevor Gordon received a long pass, began to dribble into the box and was fouled. Then Mauritsen tucked the ball into the lower right corner to beat the keeper for the game-winning goal.
“We just worked hard until the very end,” first-year Belgrade coach Sydney McCauley said. “We just took the game from Thursday and put it in our pocket, and we’ll never forget that feeling. We’re going to work hard for every game.”
The Panthers were coming off a 7-0 home loss against Billings Skyview Thursday. It was the first time the team had been shut out this season, and then things didn’t start off well against West.
But Belgrade, which trailed 2-0 after 17 minutes of play, rallied for a 3-2 Eastern AA victory. It’s the second victory in four matches for the team, which did not win a contest as a first-year AA program a year ago.
The improvement is evident in their play on the field, and the young team’s confidence continues to grow with each match.
“I hear their little side conversations,” McCauley said, “and they definitely say that our team is so much better, and we’re so much more prepared and we’re ready for any competition that’s thrown at us.”
Quin Pawiroredjo scored in the 11th minute to give the Bears a 1-0 lead, and then assisted Owen Guthridge in the 17th to make it 2-0.
“They started out much more intense,” said McCauley. “We got two goals scored on us in the very beginning and we were just like, ‘We’re not having a repeat (of Thursday), so let’s just keep going, keep driving, keep working hard.’”
The Panthers gained some much needed momentum heading into halftime when Waller scored off an assist by Jonathan Foster in the 34th minute. Then the junior scored less than three minutes into the second half to tie the match.
“He came out and he scored a free kick in two minutes, 30 second to tie it up,” McCauley said.
Belgrade (2-2-0) is back in action Tuesday hosting Bozeman.
Two second half PKs down Belgrade girls
Down 2-0 at halftime Saturday afternoon, Carl Bridwell instructed his team to stay the course.
Belgrade’s second-year coach noted the situation mirrored last year’s match against Billings West at Amend Park after his team fell behind 2-0.
“It felt a lot like deja vu. Down 2-0 in the heat, limited subs against West. It was pretty much the same scenario as last year with us,” he said. “Our team talk at halftime was about battling our own control of the game and keeping each other positive.”
Players responded in the second half and trimmed the deficit to 2-1, but West was awarded a pair of penalty kicks and converted both en route to a 4-1 Eastern AA victory.
“We had the momentum,” Bridwell said. “Some pretty eagle-eyed refs helped them today. Two handballs that, ya know, sometimes they go your way, sometimes they don’t. They got two PKs from that and that deflated most energy.”
Emma Lensing scored both of West’s first half goals on assists from Mary Speare and Maddie Mungula. But Belgrade got back into the contest when Peyton Robertson scored off a free kick from Dalani Brayton.
“Dalani played it across and Petyton ripped it top right hand corner, so it’s 2-1 and they were on the back foot,” said Bridwell.
Less than two minutes later, however, the defending state champions regained the momentum after being awarded the first of the two penalty kicks. Sophie Sievertsen scored to make it 3-1, and then Satory Taylor converted the other.
Belgrade (0-2-2) returns to action Tuesday hosting Bozeman.
Belgrade 3, Billings West 2
Belgrade 1 2 - 3
West 2 0 - 2
BW - Quin Pawiroredjo (unassisted)
BW - Owen Guthridge (Pawiroredjo)
Bel - Sam Waller (Jonathan Foster)
Bel - Waller (direct kick)
Bel - Will Mauritsen, PK
Stats not provided.
Billings West 4, Belgrade 1
Belgrade 0 1 - 1
West 2 2 - 4
BW - Emma Lensing (Mary Speare)
BW - Emma Lensing (Maddie Munguia)
Bel - Peyton Robertson (Dalani Brayton)
BW - Sophie Sievertsen, PK
BW - Satory Taylor, PK
Shots: Bel 8, BW 17. CK: Bel 4, BW 6. Fouls: Bel 6, BW 7. Saves: Bel 8 (Maya Amundsen 5, Mackenzie Turner 3), BW 6.