Wyoming scored in the match’s fourth minute, and it held up as the only goal of the game in the Cowgirls’ 1-0 victory over Montana Sunday afternoon at the Madrid Sports Complex in Laramie, Wyo.
The Grizzlies, who opened their season Friday with a 1-0 victory at Air Force, dropped to 1-1-0 on the season. Wyoming, which fell 3-1 at Kansas on Friday, has the same record.
Kasey Curtis’s first goal of the season came just 3:10 into Sunday’s match. Sammi Dunda’s crossing pass made its way to Curtis, and she snuck her shot past Griz sophomore keeper Kailey Norman and into the right corner of the goal.
“We started out a bit slow today and had some miscommunication on the back side on their early goal,” said UM coach Mark Plakorus. “It always hurts to give up an early goal. Then you’re chasing the whole game.
“And that’s one of the things about these early road trips. We have so many players who are for the first time experiencing playing two collegiate games within 48 hours on the road. It takes doing it to understand the focus and preparation it takes to not only be physically ready, but mentally as well.”
Plakorus started three freshmen and six underclassmen, and of the eight Grizzlies who played off the bench, six are in their first season of collegiate competition.
After allowing the early goal, Montana played well. The Grizzlies matched the Cowgirls with six first-half shots and generated three corner kicks to Wyoming’s one through the first 45 minutes.
But Wyoming keeper Alex Boehm, who kept Montana off the scoreboard for 110 minutes last fall in the team’s 0-0 draw, kept the Cowgirls in front with a pair of saves.
“The rest of the half I thought we played really well,” Plakorus said. “We moved the ball well and were dangerous.”
Wyoming outshot Montana 11-5 in the second half, but Norman made four saves to keep it a one-goal game. The Grizzlies came on late, including a shot by freshman Hallie Widner in the 89th minute that went just wide, but they could not find the equalizer.
“We got a little too one-dimensional in the second half and gave them a little too much space to play, but we got it together the last 10 minutes and had a great chance right at the end,” said Plakorus.
Norman, who shut out Air Force, played all 90 minutes in goal for Montana and took the loss, but still had an excellent opening weekend. She faced 32 shots in the Grizzlies’ two matches, made 14 saves and allowed just the single goal.
“It was a very good opening weekend for Kailey,” Plakorus said. “And after giving up the early goal, I thought our back line played very well today, and that’s a group that has only one upperclassman.
“It’s a learning process for this young team. Overall I’m very pleased with our competitive attitude and the way we kept battling. I would have loved to have gotten a result today, but at the same time I thought we learned a lot that will help us be a better team down the road.”
Montana will face Gonzaga and Washington State on the road next weekend. The Bulldogs opened the season with a road sweep of CSU Bakersfield and Fresno State this weekend. The Cougars, who play at No. 22 BYU Monday night, opened their season Friday with a 3-0 victory at home over TCU.
Match notes: Widner and senior Tyler Adair both took a team-high three shots for Montana. ... Freshman Ashlee Pedersen earned a yellow card in the ninth minute. ... Freshman Natalie Hein, who did not play in Friday’s victory, made her collegiate debut Sunday and played 25 minutes. ... Wyoming’s Shelby Shorb put a shot off the crossbar in the 57th minute. ... Norman and senior center back Brooke Moody both played all 180 minutes on the weekend. ... Redshirt senior Ashley Robertson started and played 34 minutes in Friday’s match. She did not play Sunday and was replaced in the starting lineup by senior Chloe Torres.