The University of Montana soccer team opened the 2011 season with a 4-3 double-overtime victory at Boise State Friday evening at Boise, Idaho. The win came in the Grizzlies’ first match under head coach Mark Plakorus.
Montana (1-0-0) appeared to be on its way to a victory in regulation time, but the Broncos (0-1-0) evened the score at 3-3 with just 16 seconds remaining in the second half.
After a scoreless first overtime, the Grizzlies won the match when sophomore India Watne scored at the 107:55 mark.
Freshman Paytyn Wheeler beat her defender up the right side and put a shot on goal. The rebound came to Watne, who scored into an open net.
“The entire team just stormed the field on the goal celebration and dog-piled in front of the goal,” Plakorus said. “They were ecstatic. It was pretty neat to see.”
The win was one reason for celebration. The four goals were another. Montana scored just eight goals in 18 matches a year ago and hadn’t scored four goals against an NCAA Division I opponent since 2006.
On Friday, the Grizzlies received goals from four different players, with junior Erin Craig opening the scoring in the 14th minute and senior Jaymie Brown and sophomore Britta Hjalmarsson scoring in the 76th and 79th minutes to put Montana up 3-2.
The assists also came from four different players. Freshman Tyler Adair assisted on Craig’s goal, Watne on Brown’s goal, junior Ashley Tombelaine on Hjalmarsson’s goal and Wheeler on Watne’s game-winner.
“We’ve been emphasizing taking chances and being fast in our attack, and tonight was the result of all their hard work,” Plakorus said about his team’s offensive output.
“It’s just a mentality. You can’t be afraid of what might happen. You have to be excited about what could happen.”
Adair set Craig up to open the scoring when her pass from midfield put Craig one on one against Boise State keeper Liz Ruiz. The goal at 13:13 was the fourth of Craig’s career.
Boise State tied it just before the half off a corner kick, then took a 2-1 lead when Montana junior Lauren McCreath’s attempt to clear a BSU cross from six yards out went directly into the Griz goal.
Brown evened the score on a shot from 15 yards out on the right side at 75:47, then Hjalmarsson scored exactly three minutes later at 78:47.
Tombelaine’s free kick struck the crossbar, and Hjalmarsson was there for the rebound from five yards out.
Boise State’s equalizer in the 90th minute and Watne’s winner in the 108th minute completed the full range of emotions for Plakorus in his first game as a collegiate head coach.
“My own emotions the whole game were all over the place,” he said.
“When we went ahead early I was ecstatic, then there was the disappointment of falling behind early in the second half, then excitement when we retook the lead, then it felt like my heart got ripped out when they tied it, and finally there was the elation of the game-winner.
“It was an entertaining game by both sides, but I’m spent. I’ll sleep as well as the players tonight.”
Sophomore Kendra McMillen went the distance in goal for Montana, making eight saves. Though it was a high-scoring game, Plakorus was quick to point out the play of his keeper and the defenders who played in front of her.
“Kendra made a number of unbelievable saves tonight. She saved us in the second overtime when a corner kick was getting knocked around and she made a save right on the line that kept us alive,” he said.
“She was just fantastic, as was the back line in front of her. I thought (freshman) Brooke Moody and (junior) Lauren Costa were great.”
Boise State had the numbers advantage, taking seven corner kicks to Montana’s four and outshooting the Grizzlies 16 to 11, but Montana finished with the one that matters: a win in its season-opening match for the first time since 2006.
The Grizzlies will play Wyoming (0-1-0) Sunday at 11:30 a.m. The Cowgirls lost to Oregon Friday afternoon, 2-0, in their own season opener.