Montana used a first-half goal from junior Charlene Burger and the team’s third shutout of the season to win its home opener Friday evening at South Campus Stadium in Missoula, 1-0 over Boise State.
Burger scored the game-winner in the 38th minute after senior Carlee Bates made a strong run up the right side and played the ball into the box from the end line. Burger only had to redirect Bates’ pass to score her third career goal and give Bates her first career assist.
“It was just as much Carlee’s goal as it was mine. She did most of the work,” said Burger. “We’ve been working on playing that ball back at an angle and not just straight across the goal. I couldn’t have asked for a better ball. She played an angle where I could just run on to it.”
It gave Montana a well-deserved 1-0 lead at the half following 45 minutes of sharp play. The Grizzlies (4-1-1) enjoyed possession for most of the half and took eight shots, their per-match average through the team’s first five games.
“The first half I thought we played really well,” said sixth-year coach Mark Plakorus, who improved to 4-0-0 against Boise State. “After the first 10 or 15 minutes, I thought the game really settled in and we started to take control.
“We scored a really nice goal. I would have liked to have been a little better with our opportunities and maybe get a second, but I thought we played well on both sides of the ball.”
It wouldn’t last, but the drop in Montana’s level of play did not cost it the result, even though Boise State had an 8-3 advantage in shots over the final 45 minutes and generated three corner kicks.
“Our energy wasn’t where it needed to be in the second half, and our focus kind of dipped and we became very reactive. We got away from what got us control of the game, and that was keeping control of the ball and moving it quickly,” said Plakorus.
The Broncos had their first golden chance of the match in the 68th minute when senior defender Tess Brenneman’s cross-field pass was intercepted, allowing BSU’s Baylee Blaser an open run at the goal.
But Brenneman recovered, caught Blaser and blocked her shot before it could lead to anything dangerous.
Montana later survived a tense final few minutes, when the Grizzlies were unable to effectively clear the ball out of their end of the field. Even so, Boise State generated just a single shot over the final 12 minutes.
“We were rushing and not getting good clearances late in the game. We were turning it over or giving them easy throw-ins, and you can’t give a team as good as they are opportunity after opportunity,” said Plakorus.
“But the girls fought. With as crazy as it was, they didn’t give up a really good look at the goal.”
Senior Kailey Norman made two saves in the second half, five for the match, for her 19th career shutout and 25th win.
Sophomores Janessa Fowler, Ellie Otteson and Hallie Widner all took two shots.
Montana will host Gonzaga (3-2-1) at 1 p.m. on Sunday. The Bulldogs had their three-match unbeaten streak come to an end Friday with a 2-1 overtime loss at Utah State.