BILLINGS — The Billings West boys soccer team suffered a heartbreaking defeat in last year’s semifinals, falling on the road at Missoula Hellgate 1-0.
The 345-mile trek home, plus an entire offseason to stew on the loss, have provided the Golden Bears plenty of motivation.
“It was a long trip, I’ll tell you that much. We definitely had a nice little talk with our team. We discussed what we could have done better, what we could have done to beat them," senior right winger Ethan Holloway said. "There was a tough call, a couple misses that we had, but that bus ride definitely got us closer, though.”
Experience is on West’s side, as it has a dozen seniors on the roster, three of which are returning all-staters. A state title is something this group has been working towards for years.
“Exactly what we have, we’ve got chemistry. We’ve been playing with each other since we were toddlers, so I’m confident that we can win state," said senior midfielder Owen Guthridge. "We’ve got the depth. I think we’re the most experienced squad in the state, so that should be our main goal.”
“We all know each other, we all know how we play on the field. We definitely have that chemistry together. Since we’ve been playing since toddlers, we just know how we understand each other and what we need to do on the field and the effort that we need," Holloway said.
The road to the State AA playoffs continues this week with crosstown games against Billings Skyview and Billings Senior. That atmosphere will be a glimpse at what to expect when the postseason rolls around.
“We’re hyped to play a crosstown, our first crosstown of Billings. It’s going to be really good. Skyview is a good team. They’ve been good in the past and we lost to them, so we want to take it to them first game," said senior center back Loren Rogge.
West kicks off at 5 p.m. against Skyview on Thursday night at Amend Park.