Weber State scored goals in the 43rd and 71st minutes to defeat Montana 2-0 Thursday afternoon at Ogden, Utah, in the Big Sky Conference opener for both teams.
The Grizzlies (3-4-3, 0-1-0 BSC) will conclude their Big Sky-opening road trip with a match Saturday afternoon at Idaho State (4-5-0, 1-0-0 BSC). The Bengals won their league opener Thursday afternoon, 1-0 at home over Eastern Washington.
“This isn’t the way we wanted to start,” UM coach Mark Plakorus said. “We didn’t play well, and they played extremely well, and that’s not a good combination.
“We were out of sorts today. We were very reactive and didn’t play together.”
Telling numbers: Montana generated six first-half corner kicks to Weber State’s two, but the Wildcats had a 15-4 advantage in shots by the break.
“We didn’t shoot the ball or get on the end of crosses,” Plakorus said. “It’s not that we didn’t have chances to be dangerous today. We just weren’t.”
Montana had an opportunity to take an early lead when sophomore Mackenzie Akins, one of the most dangerous players in the Big Sky, got a 1-v-1 on Weber keeper Ryann Waldman in the third minute, but Akins was stopped.
Weber State (5-2-2, 1-0-0 BSC) was held without a shot through the first 12 minutes, but when Mackenzie Day’s shot in the 13th minute hit the post, it started the Wildcats’ rush to goal.
Mackenzie Harrison opened the match’s scoring at 42:07 on Weber’s 15th shot of the half, her fourth goal of the season. The Grizzlies had been allowing just 15.4 shots per game through their first nine matches of the season.
Keeping Weber off the board through the first 42 minutes was senior goalkeeper Kendra McMillen, who made four saves in the first half and seven for the match.
“Kendra was the best player on the field today, for both teams. She was great today,” Plakorus said. “She made two or three fantastic point-blank saves that kept things close.”
Montana outshot Weber State 8-7 in the second half, but the Grizzlies could not solve Waldman, who made five saves to record her third shutout of the season, and Shaylee Petersen’s first goal of the year from 25 yards out at 70:22 gave the Wildcats some breathing room.
Facing a 2-0 deficit, Montana only generated two shots over the final 19 minutes.
And so the Grizzlies will travel north to Pocatello and face the team they played last November in the championship match of the Big Sky tournament. The teams played to a draw in that match, their second tie of the season, and the Bengals won the shootout 4-3 to advance to the NCAA tournament.
“We don’t ever get too low after a loss or too high after a win,” Plakorus said. “We’ll regroup and come out and be ready to play again Saturday.”