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LPHS girls soccer falls to Locomotives on Senior Night in physical game

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Junior Astrid McGuire fights through contact after taking possession from the Laurel Locomotives. PHOTO BY JASON BACAJ

Laurel’s Mya Maack scores four goals to set all-time Montana scoring record

By Jack Reaney STAFF WRITER

Lone Peak High School senior keeper Josie Wilcynski stopped most of Laurel High School’s shots on goal Thursday night, but the visiting Locomotives’ offensive talent was overpowering in a 6-0 win over the Big Horns.

“We played Laurel before, they are the best team in the state,” Wilcynski said. “I am a little frustrated with how tonight’s game went, but I know that everyone put all their effort out there, and I’m not disappointed with how I played at all. I owe it all to my teammates, they are so encouraging and I’m so lucky to be on the team with them.”

Wilcynski faced roughly 30 shots during the game. Although she allowed six goals, Wilcynski was tasked with containing the power and finesse of Mya Maack, one of the greatest high school soccer players in state history. Wilcynski dove all over the goal line, stuffed a handful of shots from close range, punched numerous loft shots over the goal and was a vocal leader on the field.

The Lone Peak Big Horns set for a cross in the first half. PHOTO BY JASON BACAJ

“I was so fortunate to train with Michael Romney this summer,” Wilcynski said. “He is such an amazing goalie, and I gained so much knowledge from him. Everything from diving to punching over the net, to short saves and how to position myself.”

Romney, who graduated in 2021, was a first-team all-state goalkeeper in his time at Lone Peak High School.

“Talking helps me too; I’ve been a very emotional player in the past,” she said. “When I get to my teammates and pick them up, it helps me pick myself up as well. I just have to keep everyone filled in on what’s going on, because I’m the only person on the field who can see everything that’s happening.”

Wilcynski was one of four seniors celebrated before the game as part of the senior night celebration. Athletic Director John Hannahs announced each player and told their stories:

Wilcynski started playing goalie as a sophomore and has enjoyed learning a new position, said Hannahs. Also a basketball player and golfer, she wants her teammate to enjoy the time they have together and make the most of the opportunity to play high school sports. She plans to study business or kinesiology in college.

Avery Dickerson is proud to bring a program to Big Sky that little kids can be excited about. She remembers her early soccer days in Charlotte, NC, playing for the Bumble Bees coached by her mother, Kim Dickerson, now the Big Horns head coach. She is grateful for the 12 amazing, strong women on her team, and is thankful for her father, who drives near and far to support her, Hannahs said. Avery plans to study speech pathology in college on the East or West Coast.

Soccer has made an impact on Myla Hoover that she will carry throughout her life, Hannahs said. Her highlight is the team bonding from her three years starting the Lone Peak soccer program, and recognized Doug Hare for being an inspiring coach. She plans to attend college, although her area of study is yet undecided.

Skylar Manka’s high school highlight came when she scored two half-field goals in one game, said Hannahs. She has been proud to start the Lone Peak soccer program and looks forward to seeing it grow and improve. She plans to attend college next fall, playing club soccer and majoring in engineering.

Dickerson and Manka anchored a defensive stand against the aggressive and physical Laurel offense. Manka’s size and strength were a close match for Maack, Laurel’s star attacker.

“Mya is a player we’ve been playing against since the first year of our program. She’s always been a very physical player,” said Manka. “It’s definitely an aggressive game, and I could have cut in more and pushed back more, because I fell down a lot. I don’t hold hard feelings, [both teams] played physical.”

On numerous tackles, Manka and Maack both ended up on the turf. PHOTO BY JACK REANEY

A new state record

Maack, a senior, entered the game with 115 career goals, three shy of the all-time high school scoring record in Montana. She played hungry and scored the four goals she needed to claim the record.

Maack made a nifty pass around the charging Wilcynski to score in stoppage time of the first half, and then scored again from the left side with 29:30 remaining in the game to give her team a 3-0 lead. Six minutes later, she scored on a breakaway from the right side, tying the record.

With the intensity of her record-breaking pursuit, the Big Horns kept up their complete effort despite a 4-0 deficit. Wilcynski and the defense made a series of stops on Maack, challenging the star until the final four minutes of play.

Maack sets up her record-breaking goal late in the match. PHOTO BY JASON BACAJ

Receiving a punt beyond half field from the Laurel goalkeeper, Maack turned and beat four Big Horns’ defenders moving down the left side. She cut toward the middle and fired a low shot past Wilcynski’s attempted kick-save.

Still in tears after the game, Maack spoke with EBS.

“I told the team before the game I had four left, and the fact that they trusted me and gave me the ball in front of the goal means everything to me,” she said. “It’s such a weight lifted off my shoulders, I can’t even describe how glad I am to say that it’s over––that the record’s broken, and that we got a win tonight against a conference opponent and a great team.”

Maack pointed out the improvement of the Big Horns program, especially Manka with whom she battled each of the last three years.

“I’m incredibly thankful for my team for everything they’ve done for me, and I’m so proud to be on this team,” said Maack, who looks to add to her Montana record as the season comes to a close.

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