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Every team wants to play its best in the postseason, but the task is easier said than accomplished.

The Bozeman girls did just that, and has its first state championship since 2012 as a result.

The Hawks used their 12-member senior class, a veteran head coach and a will forged through three years of disappointment to put on a dominant show at the Class AA state tournament, capped by a 3-0 decision over Helena Capital in Saturday afternoon’s title match.

“It just is the best feeling. It’s pretty indescribable and we all just have a such a tight group — not just seniors, but a great team,” said senior forward Alexa Coyle, AA’s top scorer. “We worked this season with this goal in mind, and to have it pay off is more than I can ask for.”

The Hawks finished 15-0-2 and solidified their case as the class of Montana all weekend, outscoring three opponents 10-0. Bozeman finished with six consecutive shutouts and did not allow a goal after Oct. 1.

“This is a great way to go out on top and in really dominant fashion,” head coach Erika Cannon said. “They played really excellent soccer. You don’t see many finals that look like today’s final.”

Added goaltender Alex Swoboda, “I watched a lot of great soccer this weekend and really didn’t have to do much. The play was so pretty and we just outplayed other teams. We really deserved today and it was a great win.”

Swoboda had to make a couple of tough saves against the Bruins early, as the teams traded dangerous opportunities in the opening minutes, according to Cannon.

“One of the hardest things is playing without a lot of shots on her,” she added. “This tournament she was amazing and came up really tough on some good chances Capital had. It was crucial that she do that, and she stepped up to back her team up. That was what we needed.”

Bozeman also created chances before senior Lizzie Rich sent a corner kick in and junior Olivia Kaiser finished in the 16th minute.

Keely Lane added a goal before halftime and Elaine Chandler converted shortly after. Rich set up both.

“We’ve always talked about 11 on offense, 11 on defense, and I think that was the difference, just being able to keep momentum,” Cannon said. “It … allows us to play the kind of soccer we can when we keep a lead.”

This kind of soccer has been played often in Cannon’s 21-year tenure. It is Bozeman’s fifth title since 2006, sixth under Cannon and eighth since 1991.

“What sets the Bozeman program apart is not only the coaches put in so much effort to making us great, not only just on the field, but as people and uniting us as a team,” Coyle said. “All of those different aspects really bring our program success. They instill hard work in us and that’s what got us here. We definitely owe that to Erika and our assistant coach Jack (Stoddart) and our whole program.”

Since Coyle and Swoboda’s class entered high school, the Hawks had lost in the semifinals twice and the final once.

“The last time Bozeman won, my sister was on the team and it was great seeing that and how that team just loved to win,” Swoboda said. “Experiencing it today was awesome. There are no words. It was magical.

“The last five minutes Erika put all the seniors on and I kind of lost it. I started tearing up and I knew we were going to win in the last five minuets and it was great because we worked so hard on and off the field and being so close to each other.”

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Parker Gabriel can be reached at or 582-2690. Follow him on Twitter @pgabriel15.

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