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A two-week layoff did not hurt Bozeman one bit Thursday at the Class AA state tournament.

Erika Cannon’s team — the East’s top seed — struck early and often, dispatching Missoula Hellgate, 4-0, to advance to this afternoon’s semifinals.

Senior forward Alexa Coyle attracted heavy attention from the outset, according to Cannon, but still managed to assist on the Hawks’ first two goals and score the final pair.

“She definitely kept her head and showed the state that she’s a great forward and a great goal-scorer,” the veteran head coach said. “She did a great job for us today, created a lot in the first half. … They were marking her, as they should, and she was just finding areas and we were finding other players. She was still able to make a difference there. She was sending in really nice crosses.”

Coyle first sent a ball to junior Olivia Kaiser, who volleyed it home. Then, Coyle played a ball to senior forward Abby Ross, who hammered a left-footed shot to the upper corner.

“Both goals were incredible. Two really good goals to start us off,” Cannon said, “I think it really did pump us up, but Hellgate really did a good job of bringing a lot of pressure after the first goal. They didn’t go easily and they pushed people forward and put some pressure on us. It was a good game.”

The Knights kept pressuring, but Bozeman (13-0-2) kept turning them away. The West’s No. 4 seed became the Hawks’ fourth straight shutout victim, dating to Oct. 1.

“All of our girls are doing a tremendous job,” Cannon said. “(Keeper) Alex (Swoboda) had a great game today and our whole back line, our holding midfielders and our center midfielders are so strong. They dominated and did a great job of winning balls and matching any attacks that they put forth.”

Coyle converted her first goal of the second half when fellow senior Keely Kempt beat a defender and then split two more with a pass, according to Cannon. Coyle later beat a defender to a ball played in by senior defender Jessica Andrew, capping a fruitful first day.

The Hawks now turn their attention to Missoula Sentinel, a familiar semifinal foe. The Spartans knocked off Cannon’s team in penalty kicks in the same round last fall. They did the same to Billings Skyview on Thursday after a scoreless regulation and extra period.

“They’re well-coached and they’re kind of a possession-style team, similar to us,” Cannon said. “They’ll be a good opponent.

“We talked about it a little bit,” she admitted of last year’s loss, “but I think our team is pretty good about having a healthy respect for the other team but also a good confidence in how we’re playing.”

Today’s semifinals are slated for 1:30 p.m.

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

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