COLUMBIA FALLS — A perfect six made for a perfect five for the Billings Central girls on Saturday.
The Rams dominated Columbia Falls 6-0 to finish another unbeaten season and win their fifth straight State A girls soccer championship at Flip Darling Memorial Field in Columbia Falls.
With the win, Central (15-0-0) matches the state girls soccer record of five consecutive state titles set by Helena Capital from 1996-2000.
It also marked the 100th career win for Rams’ coach Laurie Stergar, who is 100-11-5 in eight seasons.
“Just an unbelievable game … this was a total team effort,” said Stergar. “I’m so proud of these girls. They came in ready and focused, and they played great from start to finish. Just like they did all season.
“Our defense just dominated today. We played pressure defense the whole game because that’s what you have to do against Columbia Falls’ style of offense, and the girls played great. Only one ball got through to Hadley (goalkeeper Hadley Ryan) all day. Just an unbelievable effort.”
Allie Lucas scored three goals and assisted on another to lead the Central offense. Holly Davison scored twice for the Rams, while Sammy Elliott chipped in with a goal and an assist.
Davison, Elliott and Lucas all scored in the first 17 minutes as the Rams started fast against Columbia Falls. The Rams led 4-0 at intermission, with Lucas scoring twice in the first half.
Amy Mueller and Morgan McDonnell also assisted on goals for the Rams.
Ryan had just one save as Columbia Falls (12-2-1) managed just one shot on goal. Central put 15 shots on goal.
“Scoring those goals early really helped us get the momentum, and we just never let down after that,” said Elliott. “We played really aggressive and got to pretty much every ball first.
“And our defense played so good. We were on the attack pretty much the whole game.”
Field conditions were a factor. Snow was plowed off the field Friday, scraping much of the grass off along with the snow.
“It was mostly mud,” said Davison. “Coach Stergar told us not to worry about it and just play our normal game. The ball was skipping a lot when it bounced … we just tried to keep the ball close to the ground and keep in moving.
“It was a great feeling to get those early goals and just keep the pressure on them the whole game. We weren’t going to give them any chance at a comeback once we got the lead. The whole team played great today. This is such an amazing feeling to make it five in a row.”
The defensive effort on Saturday was typical of the entire season for the Rams, who outscored their 15 opponents by a total of 81-2.
“It feels great to end the season with a shutout in the championship,” said senior defender Randi White. “We didn’t talk about that before the game, but I think it was on all our minds … we expected that of ourselves today.
“We take a lot of pride in our defense and the way we play. Only giving up two goals all season is a great record for us.”
Central is now a remarkable 74-1 in its last 75 matches over the past five seasons. Since having a 48-match win streak snapped last season at Belgrade, the Rams have now won 26 straight.
“This is a great reward for these girls,” said Stergar. “They worked so hard and stayed so focused all season. This is a great way to end the season and a great way for our seniors to go out.”