MISSOULA — Helena High's girls soccer team maintained its position atop the Western Conference standings with a 5-1 victory at Missoula Hellgate on Tuesday. In the meantime, the second-place Helena boys dropped a hard-fought 3-2 decision to the league-leading Knights.
Melina Hammer tallied two goals to spearhead the Bengal girls' attack. Maddie Mariegard, Janie Maes and Alanna Vickory each scored once. Helena led 4-0 at halftime. Passing for assists were Kamden Hilborn (three times) and Katie Martin, and "Jaylen Tintinger and Reagan Maronick shared one of the assists," HHS coach Mike Meloy said.
Goalkeeper Ashlin Slanger posted three saves for Helena.
"Possession through the midfield was the key," said Meloy, whose team improved to 8-1-2 for 26 points. "Janie Maes was all over the pitch up top creating lots of opportunities for herself and the team. We converted two corner kicks and our backs turned in another solid game."
On the boys side, two-time defending state champion Hellgate scored in the 23rd minute and held onto a 1-0 lead until the 59th minute, when HHS's Jackson Keller's free kick knotted the score at 1-1. Over the next five minutes, the two teams traded goals, Keller following up a Knights' score with a penalty kick at 64 minutes to again get the Bengals even.
But then with seven minutes on the clock, the Hellgate's Will Dauenhauer broke the tie and the Knights' defense made the goal stand up.
Helena keeper Gabe Studt registered nine saves.
HHS slides to 7-2-2 (23 points). The Knights move to 9-1-1 (28 points).
"The guys played really well," said coach Carl Straub, whose Bengals won the season's initial meeting three weeks ago for the program's first win over Hellgate in many years. "We were close to getting a result and pushed hard all the way to the last second."
Townsend falls to Fairfield in three sets
Fairfield handed Townsend's volleyball team a three-set, nonconference Class B loss on Saturday, 25-19, 25-17, 25-15.
Peyton Vogl spiked six kills and fired three service aces for the Bulldogs. Teammate Anna Berg posted 14 digs, and Taylor Noyes set 12 assists.
-- Curt Synness