The Montana soccer team scored goals five minutes apart midway through the first half, and that was all the Grizzlies would need to post a 2-0 victory at Gonzaga Friday afternoon at Spokane, Wash.
The win snapped Montana’s nine-match losing streak to Gonzaga. In the process the Grizzlies (2-1-0), who won in Spokane for the first time since 2001, handed the Bulldogs (2-1-0) their first loss of the season.
“We had a game plan coming into the match, and the team was really disciplined and worked incredibly hard and played really well together,” said UM coach Mark Plakorus.
“We made really good decisions in both our attack and on defense. It was a pretty complete performance for us. They really got after it today.”
Junior Mackenzie Akins, the Grizzlies’ leading returning scorer from last season, put Montana up 1-0 in the 20th minute with her first goal of the season.
In the 25th minute senior Allie Simon, who missed last week’s matches at Air Force and Wyoming because of a leg injury, scored her first goal of the year and the sixth of her career.
“Mackenzie was a little frustrated last week. She had some pretty good chances and didn’t score. Today I thought she played a fantastic game, both offensively and defensively,” said Plakorus.
“To just get Allie back on the field today was a good thing, much less be able to score on what was probably just her second touch of the game. It was great to see her out there.”
Both goals were assisted by senior Chloe Torres, who entered the match with a single career assist.
“Chloe probably had her best game as a Montana Grizzly,” Plakorus said. “She was fantastic today and a spark for us in the attack. She was finding herself in the middle of our attack most of the time, and the decisions she made with the ball were spot on.”
Gonzaga opened the season last week with a pair of road wins at CSU Bakersfield and Fresno State behind the strength of its offense. The Bulldogs took 44 shots in the two matches, 19 of which were put on goal, and they scored five times.
On Friday Montana limited the home team to just six shots, only three on goal. And it wasn’t because Gonzaga didn’t have its opportunities. The Bulldogs took eight corner kicks in the match to the Grizzlies’ one.
Montana’s back line limited Gonzaga’s shots. When the Bulldogs did get a look, sophomore goalkeeper Kailey Norman was there to make three saves and record her second shutout in three matches this season.
She dropped her goals against average to 0.33 and upped her save percentage to .944.
“Kailey and our back line were very, very good today and physical when they needed to be. Gonzaga is a very dynamic and very good attacking team, and stacked offensively. They are a pretty hard team to deal with,” said Plakorus.
Montana will face another unbeaten Sunday afternoon when the Grizzlies take on Washington State (1-0-1) at Pullman. The Cougars, who have not allowed a goal this season and have won six straight at Lower Soccer Field, have not played since a 0-0 draw at No. 17 BYU Monday night.
The game kicks off at 1 p.m. (MT) and can be watched on the Pac-12 Networks.