Alysha Overland scored a pair of goals just 68 seconds apart late in the first half to help Washington State overcome an early deficit and hand the Montana soccer team a 2-1 loss at WSU’s Lower Soccer Field in Pullman Friday evening.
McKenzie Warren opened the scoring in the 27th minute for the Grizzlies, but Overland answered with goals in the 35th and 36th minutes as Washington State (2-2-0) handed Montana (3-1-1) its first loss of the season.
It was the seventh straight victory for the Cougars over the Grizzlies. Both teams were ranked in this week’s NSCAA Pacific Region poll, with Washington State at No. 8, Montana at No. 9.
“I’m proud of the girls, how hard they worked and how hard they competed,” said UM coach Mark Plakorus. “Even though we didn’t generate a lot of shots, I thought it was a pretty even game that was played mostly in the middle of the park.”
After combining for 13 shots in an eventful first half that included all the scoring, the teams took just five in the second in a chippy frame marked by three yellow cards and 10 fouls, seven of which were whistled against the Cougars.
Washington State outshot Montana 11-2 in the first half. The Grizzlies held a 3-2 edge in the second.
“I liked how the girls responded in the second half. We started playing through them a little bit and creating some dangerous situations,” said Plakorus. “We weren’t able to get a quality look to try to get the equalizer, but I loved our competitive fight and that we didn’t back down.”
Warren, whose three career goals have now come against Iowa, Purdue and Washington State, put Montana up 1-0 in the 27th minute.
After a Cougar defender turned it over deep in WSU’s end, Allie Lucas, who collected the sixth assist of her career on the play, picked up the loose ball and played a cross into the box, where Warren redirected it past WSU keeper Ella Dederick.
“We knew we would have to convert on our chances if we wanted to come away with a win. It was a great job by Allie and Kenz to press when they did and cause the turnover,” said Plakorus. “Allie did a fantastic job of making the keeper commit, then passing the ball to Kenz and Kenz finishing.”
Montana survived a pair of dangerous headers by Washington State’s Amy Neal when the match was still scoreless, and Taryn Miller cleared a ball off the goal line for a team save in the 29th minute, keeping the Grizzlies ahead.
Montana took just two first-half shots, but Warren almost made it 2-0 in the 32nd minute off a quick counterattack. Dederick made a diving save to her right, one of three for her on the night.
Overland scored her first goal in the 35th minute when she took a low, hard cross from Jordan Branch that no Griz defender could clear. She put it past Griz goalkeeper Kailey Norman to make it 1-1.
Overland scored the game-winner 68 seconds later, finishing a long run by beating Norman to the lower-left corner.
“We played really well tonight except for 15 or 20 minutes at the end of the first half when I thought we panicked a little bit. After we went up, they responded like a quality team. They came hard at us, and we started doing some uncharacteristic things,” said Plakorus.
“Part of that was my fault. I should have kept the lineup we had on the field another five or 10 minutes before I made the change I did to our back line. It kind of confused us a little bit and caused some problems.”
Norman allowed two goals for the first time this season to pick up the loss. Tess Brenneman and Ashlee Pedersen both played 90 minutes, Raquel Watts logged 86, starting at outside back for Mary Gintz, who missed the first match of her career Friday after playing in 65 straight.
It was Watts’ first career start. “I thought Raquel did a nice job tonight,” said Plakorus.
Montana will make its home debut next week when it hosts Boise State and Gonzaga. The Grizzlies will face the Broncos next Friday at 5 p.m., the Bulldogs on Sunday at 1 p.m. at South Campus Stadium.