A year after getting most of the breaks on its way to an unbeaten Big Sky Conference record, the Griz soccer team is seeing them go the other way.
Montana, which opened its Big Sky schedule Friday with a 2-1 loss at North Dakota on a late goal, dropped to 0-2-0 in league with a 3-2 setback to Northern Colorado Sunday afternoon at Jackson Stadium in Greeley.
Both teams scored a pair of goals in the first half. The Bears (6-5-0, 1-0-0 BSC), who were playing their only match of the weekend, scored the game-winner in the 74th minute.
“Right now it seems like everything is going against us. We just can’t buy a break,” said coach Mark Plakorus. “But the kids are battling and fighting, and that’s all I can ask of them.
“We took on a very good team that was rested and waiting for us, and we gave them everything they could handle. I couldn’t be more proud of the effort we gave today.”
The loss’s silver lining is that two players scored their first career goals for Montana (3-7-1, 0-2-0 BSC), which will need to find new scoring options if it’s going to remain in tournament contention the next four weekends. The Grizzlies hadn’t scored two goals in a match since Aug. 30.
Freshman Ellie Otteson, who’s been close, finally broke through and opened the match’s scoring in the third minute. After the Bears scored in the 13th and 35th minutes to go up 2-1, junior Carlee Bates evened it with her first career goal in the 38th minute off a corner kick by junior Mary Gintz.
“It’s a great thing for both of them,” said Plakorus. “Ellie has been working so hard and has had some good looks. For her to get a goal will be great for her confidence. The same thing for Carlee, who had a great goal off a corner kick.”
Gintz’s assist was her third of the season, a total that leads the team.
Northern Colorado took 10 second-half shots and finally broke through at 73:44 when Brooke Braden scored her second goal of the match and third of the season.
“We made three mistakes defensively today, and they took advantage of them and scored three really good goals,” said Plakorus. “We weren’t able to generate enough after that to try to tie it up.
“It was a really good college soccer game between two teams that really battled and fought. I was proud the way my team bounced back from the disappointment of Friday to really compete against a team that was rested and really came after us. I was really pleased with our effort.”
Montana is one of four teams that opened league 0-2-0 this weekend. Eastern Washington and Idaho both started 2-0-0 with road wins at Weber State and Idaho State, and Sacramento State won twice at home over Northern Arizona and Southern Utah.
Montana will host Southern Utah (5-5-0, 0-2-0 BSC) Friday at 3 p.m. and Northern Arizona (6-5-0, 1-1-0 BSC) Sunday at noon.
“We weren’t going to win anything or lose anything on this trip,” said Plakorus. “We still have eight league games left in the season, and there are still a lot of points out there for us to battle for. We just have to keep plugging away.”