The Montana soccer team played to a 1-1 draw with Idaho State Saturday afternoon at Davis Field in Pocatello, Idaho, giving the Grizzlies a 0-1-1 start to their Big Sky Conference schedule. Montana opened league play with a 2-0 loss at Weber State Thursday afternoon.
Senior Maddey Frey opened the match’s scoring in the 61st minute with her second career goal and second in Montana’s last three matches, and Idaho State answered with the equalizer in the 76th minute.
It was the third straight match between Montana (3-4-4, 0-1-1 BSC) and Idaho State (4-5-1, 1-0-1 BSC) that has ended in a tie, and the Grizzlies extended their unbeaten streak against the Bengals to five (2-0-3).
The match came less than 48 hours after Thursday’s sluggish start to the Grizzlies’ second season, and Montana was a different team. Sophomore Mackenzie Akins hit the post in the first half, junior Chloe Torres hit the post in the second overtime, and the Grizzlies took 19 shots.
“I thought we played well and responded incredibly well to how we performed on Thursday,” UM coach Mark Plakorus said. “I was very pleased with how we competed today. Hopefully we’ve taken a big step forward.
“It’s important when you’re on the road in conference play to get results out of a road trip, so to get something today at a tough place to play was a good thing. Our conference is going to be very, very tight this year, so every result is going to matter.”
Despite Montana’s offensive output -- the Grizzlies’ shot total was their second highest of the season -- the match was far from one-sided. Idaho State took 17 shots, and the match was scoreless at the half because Griz senior keeper Kendra McMillen made six first-half saves.
McMillen faced 39 shots on the road trip, made 16 saves and did enough that Montana could have come away from the trip with more than just a single point in the standings.
“Kendra played very well for us again. She’s been steady for us back there all year,” Plakorus said. “Hopefully we can get rolling a little bit offensively and give her some breathing room.”
Frey’s opening goal came when Montana played a through ball to senior India Watne. The blazing midfielder couldn’t reach it, but she pressured the Idaho State defender who did, and a deflection went right to Frey.
“She hit it first time, and it was a great shot into the far corner,” said Plakorus.
Montana’s lead lasted 15 minutes, until ISU’s Whitney Peterson scored her second goal of the season at 75:25 from 10 yards out.
The match marked the fifth time this season Montana has held a second-half lead and come away with something less than a victory.
The Grizzlies’ best chances to win the match came in the second overtime. Torres’ shot in the 104th minute was deflected by Idaho State keeper Sheridan Hapsic off the left post. Two minutes later Watne took a free kick from just outside the 18-yard box, and her shot sailed high of the goal.
“I thought we had an opportunity to get a couple of more goals, but they’re probably feeling the same way. That’s a game that easily could have been 3-3 or 4-4,” Plakorus said. “I don’t remember a game when there were so many posts and crossbars hit.”
Akins took a match-high five shots, giving her 11 for the road trip, and McMillen finished with nine saves, her second-highest total of the season.
Montana will play its first Big Sky Conference home matches next weekend when the Grizzlies host Sacramento State (5-4-1, 1-0-0 BSC) and Portland State (4-4-1, 1-0-0 BSC). The Hornets and Vikings both opened their league schedules with home wins on Friday.