Lady Dogs blank Columbia Falls at home
Whitefish's Olivia Genovese tries to dribble the ball past two Wildkat defenders in a game against Columbia Falls on Thursday in Whitefish. (Whitney England/Whitefish Pilot)
Whitefish senior Katie Benkelman fights for the ball with a Columbia Falls defender in a rivalry game on Thursday in Whitefish. (Whitney England/Whitefish Pilot)
Whitefish keeper Norah Schmidt slides in for a save against Wildkats Tayler Lingle, Madelyn Alexander on defense on Thursday Sept. 15 in Whitefish. (JP Edge/Hungry Horse News)
Whitefish senior Rya Hirsch boxes out Wildkats' Sydney Mann on Thursday at Smith Field. (JP Edge/Hungry Horse News)
Whitefish Pilot | September 21, 2022 1:00 AM
Whitefish had one of its biggest tests of the season on Thursday when rival Columbia Falls came to town.
Despite the Wildkats presenting a strong and fast team, the Lady Bulldogs handled the pressure with a 4-0 win. The shutout win brings Whitefish's record to 7-0 this season.
“The clean sheet was the big one for us, just not giving up any goals,” Whitefish coach Roland Benedict said. “The girls are stoked with the result, the coaching staff was really happy and there’s a lot of areas to build on.”
In the first half, Whitefish capitalized early on a handball call inside the penalty box that gave the Bulldogs’ leading scorer Olivia Genovese an opportunity for a PK. Genovese sunk the shot to go ahead in the 4th minute.
Bulldog teammate Brooke Roberts, another dynamic scorer, sailed a shot past the Columbia Falls keeper in the 30th minute, assisted by Belle Cosby. The Dogs took a 2-0 lead into the second half. Despite the goals, Whitefish didn’t come out as strong and physical as they usually play.
“I think the biggest component of any one of those CFalls games is the emotion — it makes it tense, it makes it tight,” Benedict said. “We got into the game and the first half we were really sluggish… we allowed them to take us out of our rhythm.”
In the second half, Whitefish picked up the pace. Just one minute in, Genovese scored off an assist from Roberts. In the 74th minute Whitefish senior Maya Lacey sealed the win with a goal off a corner kick, making the lead 4-0.
Whitefish had 27 shots while Columbia Falls shot 25 times, but most of the Wildkats’ looks at goal were from 20 yards or more out from the goal. The Bulldogs did an excellent job of limiting good scoring chances for the Kats.
Whitefish keeper Norah Schmidt had 18 saves and came up with a couple of crucial stops to keep CFalls at bay.
“They shot from deep, really deep… but [Norah Schmidt] made a couple really fantastic saves and showed her quality. But we’re limiting players and teams so they have to shoot from 25-30 yards out and Norah’s going to save all of those.”
On top of that, Benedict complimented the team’s back three on the defense for limiting quality chances, with senior Rya Hirsch leading the way.
“Now for Rya to be the leader of that back line… The back three is strong, they’re stout, they read the game well and they’re just hard to play against,” Benedict said. “So just commending them for handling Columbia Falls’ attacking players.”
Genovese, who scored twice in this game, passed Laurel’s Mya Maack for the state goal-scoring lead in Class A; Genovese has scored 17 goals this season.
“Olivia Genovese, sticking the ball in the back of the net after the Polson game was big for her to get two goals. She had 10 shots against Polson on goal and only scored one… so it was good to see her get back on the score sheet,” Benedict said.
Whitefish looks forward to Homecoming week at the high school and will face Bigfork on Thursday at Smith Fields. Kickoff is at 3 p.m.
Columbia Falls 0 0 – 0
Whitefish 2 2 – 4
WF - Olivia Genovese 4:00
WF - Brooke Roberts (Belle Cosby) 30:00
WF - Genovese (Roberts) 41:00
WF - Maya Lacey 74:00
Shots – CF 25, WF 27; Fouls – CF 8, WF 5; Corner kicks – CF 3, WF 1; Goalie saves – CF 19, WF 18.