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The Billings Central girls finally gave up a goal. But the Rams’ No. 1 goal is still firmly in their sights.

Laurel’s Alexis Lewis became the first player to score against the four-time defending State A champions this season, but it was among the Locomotives’ lone highlights in a 7-1 Central win Saturday afternoon at Rocky Mountain College.

With the win, Central improved to 7-0 on the season and to 65-1 in the past four seasons.

“One of our goals was to have a shutout season, so it’s a little disappointing that we gave one up,” said Ram senior Sammy Elliot, who had a goal and three assists in the win.

“But it’s kind of like last year when we lost and snapped our (three-year) winning streak … we have one main goal and that’s to get to the championship game and win it. That goal is still there and that’s what we’re focused on.”

Central roared to a 4-0 halftime lead on two goals apiece by junior Allie Lucas and freshman Mariah Wittman.

After Becca Shipp made it 5-0 with a goal less than two minutes into the second half, Laurel’s Lewis stunned the Rams by knocking an open 15-footer past goalie Hadley Ryan.

“It was just a defensive breakdown,” Central coach Laurie Stergar said. “That was a good lesson to our girls that you have to be prepared at all times. It doesn’t matter what the score is and it doesn’t matter what the time of the game is.”

The Rams rebounded with goals by Holly Davison and Elliott to close out the scoring and give Stergar a 7-1 win on her birthday.

“We passed really well today, especially out of the midfield,” said Davison. “We had some set plays that we wanted to work on and those we did a really good job with those.

“We have such good chemistry on our team. Most of us were here last year, and the freshmen that are new this year are doing a great job. This was a big game for us … it’s our first conference game and our homecoming game, and it’s always a big game when we play Laurel.”

The Rams outshot Laurel 13-3 and held the Locomotives to just one shot on goal.

“I’m very happy with the way we played,” said Stergar. “Laurel is a very good team. They’re strong and they have good speed and ball skills. This was our biggest game of the year so far and we played our best game of the year so far.”

Central boys 4, Laurel 1

An early wake-up call proved to be just what the doctor ordered for the Central boys.

Eddy Day scored in the sixth minute to give Laurel a quick 1-0 lead.

The Rams then started playing more aggressively and controlled play until finally breaking through with a goal by Braedon Trunkle less than three minutes before halftime.

Central struck again just three minutes into the second half. Sheehy and Nolan Trafton sprinted in on a 2-on-1 fast break, and Sheehy’s shot on goal resulted in a deflection off a Laurel defender for an own goal.

“That Laurel goal kind of woke us up,” said Sheehy. “We started out kind of slow and then got it going. It definitely wasn’t our best game of the season, but we proved to ourselves that we can still win if we’re not playing our best. That’s a big confidence boost for us.”

Sheehy scored in the 56th minute, assisted by Trunkle, and again 10 minutes later on an assist by Connor McDonnell to provide the final 4-1 margin.

Central dominated the stat sheet, holding a 22-1 edge in shots.

“I’m happy with the win, but not our overall play,” said first-year Central coach DiDier Ndedi. “Our boys have to realize that because of our record (6-1), every game is going to be difficult because teams are going to give us their best effort. Laurel did that today.”

Both the Central boys and girls teams travel to Livingston on Tuesday.


Sports editor for the Billings Gazette.