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Billings West edges Bozeman Gallatin 1-0 for State AA soccer title

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Posted at 1:20 PM, Oct 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-30 15:20:27-04

BILLINGS— You had the feeling just one might be enough to win it. And it was Friday night at Amend Park.

Billings West sophomore Mary Speare delivered a left-footed laser in the 21st minute and Bears goalkeeper Ashlyn Dvorak played maybe the best match of her career to preserve a 1-0 State AA championship victory over Bozeman Gallatin.

"I saw Jaida (Casares) and I just screamed for the ball," Speare recalled of her goal. "I saw an open net, so I shot it."

West and Gallatin played twice this regular season with each match finishing in a draw.

"They're a really good team. I have so much respect for them," Speare added. "I play against them in club (soccer) too because they're the same age as me and it's always really fun to play with them."

Defensively, Dvorak made several diving stops and multiple kick saves to keep the Raptors at bay, which hasn't been easy to do this season.

"Honestly, it's all a blur. I barely remember the saves I make right now," Dvorak said afterward. "It's all muscle memory, I don't even think when I do it. I just go, go, go."

Gallatin controlled much of the second half possession as West dropped back an additional defender. Raptors forwards Olivia Collins and Caris Follett fired several shots on goal, but Dvorak was there to stone every one.

"The time was going by so slow I couldn't even keep up with the play sometimes," she said. "We got caught celebrating a little bit after one of my saves and thankfully it didn't lead to anything going into the back of our net."

The win marked West's second girls title under coach Rob Zimmerman, who's Great Falls CMR girls team also earned one.

"I think you probably saw the best two teams in the state put on a show tonight," he said. "It wasn't necessarily as pretty as the West High team would've liked, but I knew if we had an opportunity, and could finish and get one (goal), we're organized and stout enough defensively.

"And I've said it all along, we have arguably the best goalkeeper in the state of Montana."

Dvorak and the Bears' defense closed this season winning 16 matches — 15 of them shutouts.