(Editor’s note: story by Montana Sports Information)
MISSOULA – Montana senior defender Taryn Miller, who was instrumental in the Grizzlies’ return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2011, was named third-team All-West Region this week by the United Soccer Coaches.
The two-time first-team All-Big Sky Conference selection was also voted to the third team a year ago, making her the first Montana player to repeat as all-region since Shannon Forslund in 1999 and 2000.
The West is one of eight regions in the United Soccer Coaches’ awards configuration. The West Region is made up of the Big Sky Conference, the West Coast Conference, the Big West Conference and the Summit League.
“Ever since the United Soccer Coaches (formerly the National Soccer Coaches Association of America) reconfigured all the regions, it’s become a little more difficult to get awards like this,” said first-year coach Chris Citowicki. “You’ve got to be a really good player.
“You have to be noticed not only by people within your conference but by coaches within the region. For coaches within our region to look at her name and say, ‘Yes, I remember her. She stood out against us,’ it says a lot. She definitely deserves it.”
Miller was one of eight players from the Big Sky to be recognized. Northern Colorado senior midfielder Mariel Gutierrez, a four-time first-team All-Big Sky selection and last season’s Offensive MVP, was the lone league player to make All-West Region first team.
Three Big Sky players made second team, four made third team.
Montana was a postseason bubble team in mid-October but, sparked by its defense, made a run that resulted in the Grizzlies winning their fifth Big Sky tournament title and advancing to their fourth NCAA tournament.
Montana, the No. 5 seed, won three matches in five days at the Big Sky tournament in Ogden, all over higher seeds, each by shutout.
Miller and her backline teammates allowed Northern Arizona, Weber State and Northern Colorado just nine shots on goal over 270 minutes of match time.
The Grizzlies, who fell to Washington State in the first round of the NCAA tournament, tied for the Big Sky lead with 10 shutouts, two off the program record.
Miller, who has a 3.91 GPA as an economics major, logged more than 1,900 minutes in 2018 and concluded her career with 76 matches played, with 46 starts, and totaled three goals and two assists.