Idaho used three second-half goals to take over sole possession of first place in the Big Sky Conference with a 3-1 victory over Montana Sunday afternoon at Guy Wicks Field in Moscow.
The Vandals (9-4-1, 5-0-0 BSC) took a 2-0 lead on a pair of goals early in the second half before Jenna Castillo pulled the Grizzlies (5-8-2, 2-3-1 BSC) within 2-1 in the 69th minute with her first career goal.
Ten minutes later Idaho put in the insurance goal to snap Montana’s three-match unbeaten streak.
The Grizzlies, who defeated Eastern Washington 2-1 in double overtime on Friday in Missoula, could have pulled within two points of the Big Sky leaders with a win. Instead Montana ends the weekend tied for sixth as the chase for the six-team Big Sky tournament heats up.
“It’s disappointing,” said UM coach Mark Plakorus, who led his team to an 8-0-2 league record last season. “I thought we were going to be ready to go and play a really good game like we did on Friday.
“We just weren’t dangerous enough today to cause enough problems, and that allowed them to put a lot of pressure on us. We had to defend a lot, and we got tired as the game went on. And that’s when mistakes happen.”
Idaho took the match’s first five shots and generated four early corner kicks, but Montana withstood the pressure and got to halftime in a scoreless tie.
The Vandals opened the scoring in the 51st minute, then scored what would be the game-winner less than six minutes later.
“We started slow today, but we fought our way back into it,” said Plakorus. “I thought we were fine after their first goal, then pretty quickly after that we gave up a counterattack. I thought we had it taken care of, but she got a shot off that went in.”
Facing its largest deficit since trailing Purdue 3-0 on Sept. 11, Montana responded with a goal at 68:24. Mackenzie Akins beat three defenders on the left side to get to the end line, then chipped the ball to the far post, where Castillo headed it in.
It was Akins’ 15th career assist, which moves her into a tie for fifth on the UM career list. Castillo’s score also snapped Idaho’s streak of not allowing a goal at 370 minutes.
But the Grizzlies would take only one more shot, and Kavita Battan’s seventh goal of the season in the 79th minute sealed it.
“We responded well to being down two goals. We scored a really good goal, but we couldn’t push enough forward after that to pull out of it,” Plakorus said.
Montana will play at Idaho State (1-13-1, 0-6-0 BSC) on Friday at 4 p.m. and at Weber State (7-7-1, 3-3-0 BSC) next Sunday at noon.