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Big Sky FC’s inaugural season kicks into high gear

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Lily Turner chases the ball while Harper Morris offers support with an attacking run. PHOTOS COURTESY OF NEHALEM MANKA

By Nehalem Manka EBS CONTRIBUTOR

Big Sky Futbol Club’s inaugural season is rolling along as the four traveling teams played in Big Sky and all over western Montana in early May. On May 11, Big Sky FC was excited to host a total of 11 games at the Community Park fields. Volunteers and members of the BSFC board Kim Dickerson, Larry Wikan, Matt Morris and Peter Manka worked diligently to line and prepare the fields for Saturday’s games. Multiple U10 teams from Big Sky FC, Billings Real, Bozeman Blitzz and Gallatin Valley Elite came to participate in competitive games of soccer on the warm spring day.

The day kicked off at 9 a.m. with four different teams rallying on the two pitches, playing their games side by side. Big Sky FC’s girls played their games against Gallatin Valley Elite, winning both their first game 1-0 and their second game with a solid 5-1 outing. Big Sky FC’s boys played and lost two tough games against Bozeman Blitzz Blue and Gold, but still managed  to keep their heads up and show steady improvement.

“We were excited to be able to host so many games in one day and give the Big Sky FC players the opportunity to play on their home pitch in front of their friends and families,” Head Referee Pete Manka said. On that same Saturday, the U12 girls travelled to Billings for two games and the U14 coed team headed down the canyon to play their games in Belgrade.

The coed team lost both games handily but continue to show promise. “I thought that we had two outstanding individual performances from Mason Dickerson in goal and Vera Grabow at center back,” Coach Doug Hare said. “We need to work on holding onto possession and team defense before we get the results we are looking for.”

On May 18-19, the U14 coed games in Big Timber were canceled due to bad weather, but the U10 boys and girls, and the U12 girls squads all drove up to Helena to play in their first tournament of the season, the Helena Arsenal Invitational. All of the teams played hard throughout the weekend, fighting through cold, windy weather and scattered rain showers.

The U12 Big Sky FC girls team poses for a team photo after winning the Helena Arsenal Invitational. Back Row: (left to right) Coach Kim Dickerson, Harper Morris, Hana Mittelstaedt, Lucy Stratford, Poppy Towle, Elise Daugherty, Dylan Manka, Lily Turner, Piper Carrico, Pearl Goldberg. Front Row: Tessa Bosworth, Cate Leydig, Jayden Jacobsen, Olivia Kamieniarz, Maddie Wilcynski

The U12 girls won all three of their games in the tournament. They defeated Billings Real 5-2 and Flathead Rapids 4-0 to emerge from the round robin portion of the tournament as the number one seed. On Sunday, they squared off against Billings Real in the finals. The game was back and forth in the first half until Lily Turner scored the first goal just before half time. Momentum continued to build for Big Sky in the second half, and in the end they won 4-0, emerging as the tournament champions. With first place medals around their necks and three victories under their belts, the U12 girls were all smiles after a strong showing on the weekend.

“The team played as a unit—each player doing their job, working together and creating chances to move the ball up the field. We have been working a lot on keeping possession and on attacking and defending as a unit,” Coach Kim Dickerson said. “I was really proud of the players taking what we worked on in practice and applying it to the games.”

The four travelling teams will be taking a break from their usual weekend game schedule to enjoy Memorial Day weekend, but they are set to travel to Kalispell the weekend of June 1-2 to play in their final tournament and games of the season.

Club Director Kim Dickerson wanted to thank local sponsors Shedhorn Grill, Olive B’s, PMC Lone Star, Big Sky Real Estate, Big Sky Snowman, the Rotary Club of Big Sky, Blue Ribbon Builders, Big Sky Build and the Griffith and Cummings Law Firm for their generous support in helping launch the club to a successful first season.

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