Loggers shine in 1-0 loss to Wildcats

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  • Early in the first half against Columbia Falls, Libby senior Cole Walker takes the ball from Wildcat senior Payton Fisher. (Ben Kibbey/The Western News)

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    Libby senior Ethan Neff moves in for a steal off of the Wildcat’s Jason Albin Tuesday during Libby’s 1-0 loss to Columbia Falls. (Ben Kibbey/The Western News)

  • Early in the first half against Columbia Falls, Libby senior Cole Walker takes the ball from Wildcat senior Payton Fisher. (Ben Kibbey/The Western News)

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    Libby senior Ethan Neff moves in for a steal off of the Wildcat’s Jason Albin Tuesday during Libby’s 1-0 loss to Columbia Falls. (Ben Kibbey/The Western News)

At the half on Tuesday night against Columbia Falls, the Loggers left everything on the pitch. But when they went back out, they only gave more.

The 1-0 loss contrasted their 9-0 loss to the Wildcats September 22.

The Libby High School soccer team faced an aggressive, fast team in Columbia Falls. But Libby met them at every step and never faltered.

The deciding goal came on a free kick.

“When you have a handball like that, the question is, is the player playing the ball with his hand, or is the ball hitting the hand?” said Libby Head Coach Jeff Zwang. “So I think it was a little bit of an unlucky free kick to give away -- a very well-taken free kick that was kind of almost impossible to stop.”

Having to make that near-impossible stop was Libby sophomore goalkeeper Isaac O’Rourke. It was the only ball that got past him all night.

“Isaac O’Rourke had a great game in goal,” Zwang said. “He played really, really well in there -- at what’s a pretty new position for him.”

O’Rourke prevented at least two Wildcat shots that were so close they had the Columbia Falls fans cheering, then groaning.

And was well-assisted by the Logger defense, which turned back attempt after attempt throughout the game.

“Zach Carter had a great game in central defense, along with Michael Hollingsworth in there,” Zwang said.

Zwang complimented his fullbacks, and his entire defense, calling out the best playing he has seen all season.

“Everybody that I put on, they did their job, and they did everything I asked of them,” he said.

But as many close calls as there were for Columbia Falls, stopped only by the Loggers putting everything they had out there, the Libby fans had several almost-in shots on goal to raise and dash their hopes as well.

Even into the final moments of the game, as Libby drove to the Columbia Falls goal, winner never seemed certain.

“Both teams were in it, and it was competitive the whole way through,” he said. “Nobody could let up. Nobody could afford to make a mistake -- Those were getting punished.”

And Libby gave themselves a workout making that happen, such as junior Logan LaBelle, who could be seen on multiple occasions tearing across the pitch at a dead sprint to beat a Wildcat to the ball.

“He is a very good player -- one of our best players technically -- and a good athlete as well,” Zwang said. “He gave everything, And you could say that about a lot of guys.”

When players such as Hollingsworth had to leave play after cramping up, they were soon begging to be put back in, Zwang said.

“Nobody wanted to finish that thing on the bench, and they all wanted to give everything that they that they had,” he said. “It was absolutely a great game, fun to watch, a great performance.”

Both the boys and girls soccer teams play their final game of the season Saturday at Logger stadium, when they will host Polson. The boys will play at 11 a.m., and the girls at 1 p.m.

It will be the final concession by the Libby Soccer Club, with proceeds going to scholarships for two seniors -- one boy and one girl -- from the soccer teams.

With so much improvement over the season and recent performance, both Zwang and girls Head Coach Eric Kapan said are looking for a strong showing from their teams on Saturday.

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