The Montana soccer team wrapped up its season Friday with a 4-0 nonconference victory over UC Riverside at Riverside, Calif. The Grizzlies, who won three of their final four matches over the last three weekends, finish their 2013 campaign with a 7-8-4 record.
UC Riverside lost its fourth straight match to drop to 6-12-1.
Montana got goals from senior India Watne, her team-leading fifth of the year, and freshman Aspen Peifer in the first half and second-half goals from junior Chloe Torres and sophomore Taylor Rhodes while posting its sixth shutout of the year.
“I couldn’t be more proud of this team,” said UM coach Mark Plakorus. “We faced a lot of adversity this year and had a lot of ups and downs. We just tried to get the team to continue to fight.
“They did an unbelievable job tonight. From the opening kickoff they came to play. They played together, they played hard, and they did some very, very good things to score some very good goals.”
Playing her final career game not far from her Los Angeles home, Watne opened the scoring for the second consecutive match when she redirected a cross by fellow senior Maddey Frey in the ninth minute.
It would prove to be Watne’s third game-winning goal of the season and the fourth of her career. She finishes her time in a Montana uniform with nine goals and 14 assists and ends the season as the Grizzlies’ leading scorer with 12 points, on five goals and two assists.
While Watne was adding to her career totals, Friday’s other goal-scorers all found the net for the first time.
Peifer scored in the 44th minute to give the Grizzlies a 2-0 halftime lead, and Torres, who’s from nearby Arcadia, made it 3-0 when she scored in the 52nd minute.
“Aspen has been fighting all year to get her first collegiate goal, so she has a glow about her right now, and so does Chloe,” Plakorus said. “She played fantastic for us tonight, and she’s been great for us all year, so for her to get that goal, I’m just so happy for her.”
Montana scored its final goal of the season in the 62nd minute when the Grizzlies were awarded their second penalty kick in as many matches.
Redshirt freshman Mary Gintz played a ball that junior Allie Simon outran two Highlanders to track down near the outside of the box. UCR’s keeper came out, and as Simon went to touch the ball into the goal, Nicole Ragano took Simon to the ground.
On Sunday it was junior Brooke Moody who converted the penalty kick in Montana’s 3-1 win over Southern Utah. On Friday it was Rhodes’ turn.
“Brooke and Taylor every week work on penalty kicks,” Plakorus said. “I knew when Brooke had her chance last week that she would take care of it, and I knew Taylor was ready for this one.”
The final 28 minutes were scoreless for both teams, and Montana needed to make just two saves in the match, one from senior goalkeeper Kendra McMillen in the first half and one by freshman Kailey Norman in the second, to earn the shutout.