BILLINGS — Mya Maack has never lost in a soccer state championship game. She wasn't about to start Saturday.
"I told everybody yesterday in a team huddle, 'I've been in the state championship three times now. I've never lost before. I'm not losing now,'" the Laurel junior said emphatically.
Maack scored her 43rd goal of the year - adding to her already Montana all-class single season record - in the 29th minute, three minutes after senior Madi Peaton scored the opener against rival Billings Central as the Locomotives won their third straight State A title 2-0 in front of a packed house at Amend Park.
"Once we scored the second goal, the game was ours," Maack said. "We knew it at halftime."
Laurel dominated the chances in the first half, as Central, who won the Eastern A division title on goal difference after the two teams split a pair of wins in the regular season, played too tight in the opening 40 minutes. The Rams finally came alive with 20 minutes to play, but Laurel senior goalkeeper Anna Cole made a diving save on a Lily Bland shot to preserve the shutout. Cole then beat a Central forward to the ball on the ensuing corner kick on what turned out to be the Rams best chance the remainder of the game.
"When we play Central, the intensity is a lot higher," Cole said. "And to win 2-0, not letting any (goals) in, it's amazing."
"My mom told me this week that senior goalkeeper's tend to play their best in championship games, and she was right," Maack said of Cole's performance. "I've never seen Anna go all out like that. She was incredible today."
The shutout was particularly impressive after Laurel lost star defender Grace Wagner to a knee injury in the final game of the regular season. But she knew exactly what her role would be Saturday.
"On the bus ride here, I gave Gentry (Davidson) a pep talk," Wagner said of her replacement. "I said, 'Gentry, you're a good soccer player with or without me.' I asked her what she was most scared about, and she said, 'I don't want to disappoint anybody.' I said, 'Gentry, just go out there and play for you.'
"Every night after school, we go out there and work hard. It's indescribable."
Laurel has now played in the state championship game eight consecutive years. Either Central or Laurel has won the title for 14 straight years.