EUGENE, Ore. – Oregon scored just 3 minutes, 17 seconds into Friday night's contest and that was the difference, as the host Ducks beat Montana, 1-0.
"I'm pleased with how we played," head coach Mark Plakorus said. "We didn't start off strong, but we adjusted and got ourselves back into the game. We had chances, we just didn't have enough to get it done tonight."
The loss comes five days after the Grizzlies knocked off previously unbeaten Northern Iowa, 2-1, in impressive fashion on the road. Montana falls to 5-4, with its last three losses all coming by scores of 1-0 to teams from Power-5 conferences.
Early on, Montana looked out-matched physically, as Oregon (5-2) took the game's first nine shots – including the goal in the fourth minute. At the half, the Ducks were out-shooting the Griz, 10-1.
"They came out very, very hard and very determined, which I expected them to do," Plakorus said. "They're always very difficult to play at their place. I thought we started a little slow, which is something I have to do a better job of preparing our girls for."
That changed after the intermission, however, as UM took advantage of four second-half corner kicks and out-shot UO 8-5 in the second stanza, including 8-3 over the final 35 minutes. The Grizzlies looked energized, with their passes cleaner and crisper.
"We adjusted really well and settled into our game," Plakorus said. "We started getting some possession and I thought the game evened out."
Kaitlin Crowell's header was a near-miss for the Griz in the 56th minute, coming off one of the corner kicks. UM also had good locks in the 70th and 77th minutes, with shots on goal by Raye Burton and Charlene Burger, respectively.
In the 83rd minute, Janessa Fowler – who also had UM's first shot of the night in the 39th minute – initially had a clear look, but her shot was blocked at the last second, taking away a potential game-tying goal.
"In the second half, I thought we played very well," Plakorus said. "We were able to move the ball and get the ball around the goal. The last 15 minutes or so, we really added pressure.
"When you're playing some of the best teams in the country, a lot of times it's just one small thing here or there. I'm proud of how we created some chances; we just couldn't stick it."
While UM was unable to find the back of the net, freshman goalkeeper Claire Howard did all she could to keep the Grizzlies in the game. Following the goal allowed in the fourth minute, she was perfect, making a career-most six saves and facing 15 shots.
The Ducks had several strong looks, particularly in the first half, but Howard was able to keep them out of the net. In the 21st minute, an Oregon shot hit off the crossbar. As it was coming down, still live, Howard was able to pop it away and the Griz cleared it. In total, Howard saw nine shots in the first 20 minutes of action, recording three saves.
"They put a lot of shots on us, but a lot of them were from distance," Plakorus said. "They put pressure on us, but I thought we defended well and Claire's positioning was good."
UO's lone goal was scored by Jessica Yu, who took the ball down the field, crossing it to the bottom left of the net, past a diving Howard.
Friday marked the end of UM's five-match road trip, which has stretched parts of three weekends. The Griz will play at home for the first time since Aug. 27 on Sunday, hosting Washington State of the Pac-12. The Cougars are 5-1-1, with four of their victories coming via shutout. Fans who show this image can receive admittance for just $1.