Adair’s header sends Griz to 1-0 victory
Published: October 22, 2011
Freshman Tyler Adair scored her first collegiate goal, a header off a corner kick by junior Erin Craig in the 86th minute, to give Montana a 1-0 victory over Northern Arizona Friday afternoon at South Campus Stadium in Missoula.
The win puts the Grizzlies (6-9-2, 3-2-1 BSC) in a tie with Weber State (5-10-1, 3-2-1 BSC) for third place in the Big Sky Conference. Both teams have 10 points.
Portland State (7-7-2, 3-1-2 BSC) and Northern Colorado (6-7-4, 3-1-2 BSC) sit atop the standings with 11 points.
With every Big Sky team facing a final league match Sunday, only fifth-place Sacramento State (6-8-2, 2-2-2 BSC), with eight points, is still in contention for a postseason tournament spot along with the four current leaders.
Montana will play at Northern Colorado Sunday, Eastern Washington (2-11-1, 1-4-1 BSC) is at Northern Arizona (2-9-7, 1-2-3 BSC), Sacramento State is at Weber State, and Portland State is at Idaho State (5-10-1, 2-4-0 BSC).
Sunday’s scenarios are as wide-ranging as Montana winning its first regular-season championship since 2000 and hosting the four-team tournament the first weekend of November or missing the tournament completely, but for Friday at South Campus Stadium, it was all about a team peaking at the right time of the season.
The final score was 1-0, but the Grizzlies played a dominant match, outshooting the Lumberjacks 17 to 7 and finally scoring after seeing a number of earlier opportunities come up empty.
Montana’s best chances both came off corner kicks. In the 34th minute, freshman Paytyn Wheeler played a corner that ended up at the feet of sophomore Maddey Frey at the far side of the box, away from the congestion at the near post, the same spot NAU keeper Lauren Weaver was positioned.
Frey’s bid for her first goal of the season was stymied by a Lumberjack defender, who was positioned on the goal line, just inside the left post.
Craig took the team’s corner in the 65th minute and played it to the near post, where junior Lauren McCreath’s header went off the crossbar.
The loose ball found sophomore Mary Makris, and her hard drive was blocked, and Adair sent her offering seconds later high of the goal to keep the match stuck at 0-0.
Montana would create nine corner kicks in the match, six in the second half.
“We train on them every week, because they are very important,” UM coach Mark Plakorus said. “Any dead-ball service you get, any set piece you get is extremely important, because it’s a goal-scoring opportunity.”
When the Grizzlies earned their ninth corner kick in the 86th minute, Craig lofted a pass that found Adair, who was positioned just behind the tangle of players that was crashing toward the near post.
Adair became Montana’s 10th goal-scorer of the season.
“I’ve done it in practice, then finally it came when we needed it, so I’m happy,” Adair said.
“Erin serves amazing balls, so every time she’s on it I feel I need to get there. That one was served a little bit farther, and that’s my area.”
The win puts Montana in position to play in its first Big Sky Conference tournament since 2008, but it’s the quality of play his team is showing on the field that Plakorus is most excited about.
“I’m very happy for the girls,” he said. “They had a great week of training in preparation for this game, and they came out and really played, and it was fun to watch.
“They looked like they had fun playing, and that’s what we try to do. I couldn’t be more pleased with the effort and everything they’re doing.”
Seven different players took shots for Montana, with Craig matching a season high with seven.
While the pressure of postseason play was a factor in Friday’s match, it was also the team’s Pink Game for breast cancer awareness and Team Up Montana and Senior Day for Jaymie Brown.
“We were playing for more than conference standings today,” Craig said, her pink uniform partly visible through the accumulated mud of her latest all-out effort.
“We were playing for breast cancer, and we were playing for Jaymie. That really brought out a lot of passion and fight.”
Junior Kristen Hoon, who improved to 5-7-1, played all 90 minutes in goal. She made a pair of saves to record her second shutout of the season.
Hoon has allowed just two goals the last three matches and five in Montana’s last five matches.
Montana and Northern Colorado, which played to a 1-1 draw at Eastern Washington Friday afternoon, kick off at noon Sunday.
The league’s other two matches with postseason implications – Sacramento State at Weber State and Portland State at Idaho State – start at 1 p.m.