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Missoulian Herzog, Wettach, Milodragovich named outstanding players

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Mike Herzog and Nick Pertuit set it up with shootout goals, and David Milodragovich booted home the clincher to give the Flathead Force a tense 3-2 overtime victory over hometown favorite Las Vegas Premier 83 in the title game of the Las Vegas Premier Invitational soccer tournament last weekend.

The Force, composed of players from seven Montana cities, went 3-0-1 in the U-17 premier bracket of the two-day tournament. The bracket included teams from Nevada, California, and other western states, as well as an international team from Mexico and Texas, and other western states.

Herzog, from Kalispell, scored six times in the four games, counting the shootout goal. He had two goals in an opening 4-0 victory over the Nemesis. Brett Parker of Bozeman and Nate Siegler of Columbia Falls scored the other two. Chris Daley and Julius Macker of Kalispell and Pertuit, of Billings, had assists.

Herzog scored six minutes into the second game against Cosmos International on an assist from Pertuit. Milodragovich, a stopper from Great Falls, broke a 1-1 tie late in the game, coming forward with a run. Joe Livers of Helena sprung the run and got the assist as the Force won 2-1.

Flathead and A.N.U. of Nevada battled to a 1-1 tie Sunday morning. Herzog again scored early off an assist by Pat Wettach of Kalispell. Force coach Mike Stebbins credited Cody Fierro of Kalispell with a fine offensive and defensive game to hold off the Nevada team, which was bent on avenging a loss to the Force at last year's regional tournament.

The tie propelled Flathead into the championship match two hours later. Playing in strong winds, the fatigued Force fell behind L.V. Premier 2-0 early in the first half. Coach Tim Gunzler made some tactical changes at halftime to take advantage of the wind, and Pertuit assisted Kalispell's Chris Daley on Flathead's first score midway through the second half. It was the first goal against L.V. Premier in the tournament. Pertuit was fouled in the penalty area, and Herzog buried the penalty kick to tie the match at 2-2. That set up the overtime shootout, with Austin Woods in goal for Flathead.

The goals by Herzog and Pertuit put the Force up 2-1 in the shootout. The Nevada team missed its third and fourth shots, giving Milodragovich the chance to clinch it. He did.

Flathead coaches named Herzog, Wettach and Milodragovich the Force's outstanding players for the tournament. The Force is 9-1-1 this spring and return to Montana league play this weekend. They go to San Bernardino, Calif., for the SuperClubs National Qualifying Championships over Memorial Day weekend.

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