POCATELLO, Idaho – The Montana women's soccer team played flat and tentative on Friday afternoon, losing on the road to Idaho State, 1-0. It was Montana's first conference loss of the season, dropping to 6-5-1 (1-1 Big Sky).
Idaho State (3-8, 2-1 Big Sky) scored a goal in the first half and shut out the Grizzlies, despite Montana putting up a season-most 24 shots.
"You have to make sure you come with the right energy, right focus and right mindset to compete relentlessly and as hard as you possibly can every single night," head coach Mark Plakorus said. "We didn't do that tonight."
ISU out-shot Montana early, 6-2, including a goal in the 23rd minute. Centered and from just outside the box, Makena Bambei passed the ball to her right to Brooke Kortekaas, who one-timed it back to Bambei. The sophomore took two dribbles to her left before firing the ball with her left foot past a diving Claire Howard and into the top-right corner of the net.
"They got an opening," Plakorus said. "It was well placed and well hit. Claire almost had it, but the kid had a good shot."
Plakorus was quick to credit ISU, noting that the Bengals came in with a good game plan that they executed well. But he was also disappointed in his team's performance.
"We need to coach better, we need to prepare better and we need to be better," he said. "I see a nervous team that's playing uptight. In non-conference, we were relaxed and playing with nothing to lose. Now we're playing tight."
After being out-shot 6-2 in the opening 25 minutes, Montana finished the half with nine of the game's next 10 shots. They were getting looks, and seemingly had the momentum heading into the intermission.
Coming out of the break, that trend continued, with Montana taking 13 more shots while limiting ISU to just three. But while the Grizzlies took 24 shots, they only got five on goal – all of which were saved.
Montana also had more corners (6-4) and fewer fouls (10-4), but wasn't able to score.
"With the possession we had and the moments we had, I thought we would have been much more dangerous," Plakorus said. "I thought we rushed some things."
Changing formations and moving more players into the attack, UM got three looks in the final seven minutes, including a Chanelle Pederson shot that went high as time expired.
Dani Morris had a team-most five shots, while Alexa Coyle and Ashlee Pedersen had three apiece – one each on goal. Raye Burton, Allie Lucas and Kennedy Yost also had shots on goal for the Griz. Lucas' and Yost's shots on goal came in the closing minutes.
Montana will look to rebound Sunday afternoon at Weber State. The Wildcats entered Friday night's match vs. Portland State with a 1-9 record, including 0-2 in Big Sky play. The match can be watched online through WatchBigSky or on Pluto TV.