The Montana soccer team lost its second 2-0 decision of its two-match road trip when the Grizzlies fell to Sacramento State Sunday afternoon at a steamy Hornet Field in Sacramento, Calif. The Hornets got goals 86 seconds apart late to break open a mostly even match.
The weekend’s two losses dropped Montana (5-6-2, 1-2-1 BSC) from second place into a tie for seventh with two of the Big Sky Conference’s five weekends of league matches now complete.
Sacramento State (4-5-3, 2-1-1 BSC), which tied Eastern Washington 1-1 on Friday, had a four-point weekend to vault its way into a tie for third.
While the result was the same as Montana’s shutout loss to Portland State Friday afternoon at Hillsboro, Ore., Griz coach Mark Plakorus came away from Sunday’s defeat feeling much more encouraged.
“I was very pleased with how we competed today,” he said. “Our effort was much more representative of who we are and what we want to build our program around.
“The whole team competed like crazy and gave everything it had. The ball just didn’t bounce our way today.”
Griz senior keeper Kristen Hoon came up big in the first half to keep the Hornets off the board. Sac State took six shots in the opening period, five on goal, all saved by Hoon. The only shot not on goal hit the crossbar in the 38th minute.
Montana took seven of its 10 shots in the second half but could not solve Sac State keeper Shelby Tomasello, who made five saves in the match to collect her fourth shutout of the season.
Tomasello made a save on sophomore Tyler Adair’s header in the 55th minute and stopped senior Lauren McCreath’s header in the 61st minute when McCreath attempted to redirect junior Mary Makris’s corner kick.
The Hornets broke the deadlock in the 80th minute when a familiar face picked up the game-winner.
Victoria Ramirez, who scored the match’s only goal in Sac State’s 1-0 win at Missoula last fall, took a shot that Hoon deflected into the crossbar. The rebound came down, bounced off Hoon’s chest and into the goal for Ramirez’s third goal of the season.
Ramirez also played a role in the Hornets’ second goal less than a minute and a half later. Her shot was saved by a diving Hoon, and Raylene Larot put in the rebound for her second goal of the season, with an assist going to Ramirez.
Montana created five more shots in the final eight minutes, two of which were saved by Tomasello, but the Grizzlies were unable to end their scoreless drought that has now reached 253 minutes.
Sac State took 11 shots in the match to Montana’s 10. Adair and senior Erin Craig both took three shots. The Grizzlies created seven corner kicks, the Hornets four.
Hoon finished with six saves while playing all 90 minutes in temperatures that neared 100 degrees on the field.
Montana will have five Big Sky matches over the final three weekends of league play to fight its way back into the top four in the standings and make its second straight Big Sky tournament.
The Grizzlies will play their final regular-season home matches next weekend when they host two teams at opposite ends of the standings.
Montana will face first-place Northern Colorado (5-4-2, 3-0-0 BSC) Friday at 3 p.m. at South Campus Stadium and last-place North Dakota (2-7-1, 0-3-0 BSC) Sunday at 11 a.m.
The team’s Big Sky schedule will conclude on the road, with matches at Eastern Washington on Oct. 12, Southern Utah on Oct. 19 and Northern Arizona on Oct. 21.
“We’ve only got five conference matches left, but if we continue to compete like we did today, we’ll have every opportunity to get the results we need,” Plakorus said.
“We need to take them one match at a time, and that starts Friday against a very good Northern Colorado team that is going to present a big challenge.”
In other Big Sky matches Sunday, Weber State won at home against Southern Utah, 1-0, Idaho State won at home against Northern Arizona, 2-1, and Portland State won at home against Eastern Washington, 4-0.