Junior Erin Craig scored the game-winning goal in the 84th minute to lead the University of Montana soccer team to a 2-1 victory over Wyoming Sunday afternoon at the Soccer Etc./Nike Classic at Boise, Idaho.
The Grizzlies, who defeated host Boise State 4-3 in double overtime Friday evening, improved to 2-0, their first 2-0 start since 2004.
In a repeat of Friday’s match, Montana got on the board early when junior Ashley Tombelaine took a cross from sophomore India Watne in the 17th minute and scored on a one-timer.
Wyoming scored the equalizer in the 29th minute, and the teams remained deadlocked until Craig’s winner at 83:17.
“That was a tough game,” first-year coach Mark Plakorus said. “The second game of a weekend is always going to be a grind, and Wyoming plays hard. I was pleased with how we fought.
“Toward the end we gained the momentum and got on the attack and kept the ball in their end. I think we got stronger as the second half went on.”
Wyoming took three corner kicks and a penalty kick in the opening 10 minutes, but it was Montana that broke through first and opened the scoring.
Watne beat her defender down the left side and took the ball to the end line. Her left-footed cross to the top of the box was one-timed, also left-footed, by Tombelaine at 16:53.
It was Tombelaine’s first goal of the season and the second of her career.
Wyoming’s Sara Paul scored the Cowgirls’ first goal of the season at 27:57 when her shot from 30 yards out beat Montana junior keeper Kristen Hoon.
The game remained tied at 1-1 until a foul by Wyoming’s Loren Mahoney near midfield set up Montana’s game-winning goal.
Junior Lauren Costa took a free kick from just inside the midfield line-sideline corner. Craig beat Wyoming keeper Courtney Merkle to the ball and headed in the first game-winning goal of her career.
It was Craig’s fifth career goal.
The two goals Sunday give Montana six for the season from five different players. Craig also scored Friday against Boise State.
“Having a number of players who can score goals doesn’t allow the other team to focus on just one or two of your players,” Plakorus said.
“Plus your team doesn’t feel a reliance on any one person to come through.”
After watching sophomore Kendra McMillen win the season opener Friday, Hoon had her chance in goal Sunday, and she came through against a Wyoming team that took 15 shots and 11 corner kicks.
Hoon made five saves to pick up her second career victory.
“Kristen did very well. She made a couple of really good saves for us,” Plakorus said. “She was quick off the line and cleaned up anything that came through.”
Montana won’t play again until it faces Boise State at Moscow, Idaho, on Friday, Sept. 2.
“I’m really happy with the way things went this weekend,” Plakorus added. “Overall it was a fantastic weekend for us and a great way to start the year.
“We stressed at Saturday’s training session about not ever being satisfied, and I think the players have accepted that thought process.”