Chelsea clinches playoff spot with win over Helena

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

HELENA – Regular season soccer matches at the high school level don’t get much bigger than what took place between the Chelsea Hornets and Helena Huskies at Helena High School on Wednesday, April 10, as the two battled for playoff implications.

A Chelsea win meant the Hornets were postseason bound and Helena’s playoff hopes would come to an end, while a win for the Huskies would have thrown all sorts of chaos into the mix ahead of a matchup between Chelsea and Helena on Friday, April 12.

With so much on the line, the game had a playoff atmosphere and effort from both teams, which led to a physical defensive battle with the Huskies giving everything they had to keep their season alive.

While they did enough defensively for the majority of the game with a scoreless tie for 90 percent of the night, Chelsea’s Tony Nettuno did what he does best and found the back of the net to give the Hornets a big win that keeps their hopes of an area championship alive, while ending Helena’s postseason chances.

After a quiet first 10 minutes of the game, Chelsea really seemed to turn up the pressure over the next 20 minutes and saw several great opportunities to score, including one shot hitting the cross bar.

They also got a couple of great headers toward the net but missed wide on both chances to leave a zero in the score column.

With Chelsea threatening, Helena attempted to turn up the pressure late and actually got its best chance of the period with close to eight minutes to play in the opening period, but a great save by the Hornets’ keeper kept the score tied 0-0 heading to the halftime break.

In the second half, Helena was able to do a much better job defensively for the most part by keeping Chelsea at bay for the majority of the period.

The Hornets got one great opportunity 13 minutes in off a breakaway from Lando Nichols, but his shot was off the mark and missed into the side of the net. From that point forward over the next 15 minutes, the game became a defensive stalemate.

Then, with around 10 minutes remaining in the game, Nichols got another breakaway, but this time he had help. He was able to play the ball into the box for Nettuno, who finished by firing the shot into the back of the net for the tiebreaking goal and a 1-0 lead late in a defensive game.

Chelsea actually got another opportunity shortly after from Nichols, but his shot was tipped out before a corner was eventually cleared, but the continued pressure helped the Hornets leak the final seconds off the clock to preserve the victory.

It marked a redemption win for Chelsea, who fell to Helena 5-4 earlier this season. With the Huskies having three losses, however, they were officially eliminated from a chance at the postseason with Pelham and Chelsea only having one and just one matchup left against one another to decide the area champion.