(Editor’s note: Story by Montana Sports Information)
LARAMIE, Wyo. – For the third time in the teams’ last five meetings, Montana and Wyoming played to a scoreless draw as the Grizzlies and Cowgirls battled for 110 minutes of physical soccer on Friday afternoon at the Madrid Sports Complex in Laramie.
It was the second consecutive scoreless draw for Montana (1-3-2), which extended its unbeaten streak to three matches and its stretch of not allowing a goal to more than 333 minutes, dating back to a second-half goal given up to Arizona State on Aug. 23.
The Grizzlies had more shots, the Cowgirls (3-1-2) created more corners, and in the end Montana got a positive result against a team that rarely gives much away at home.
“Playing at altitude against a team that is super physical, the battle and heart we had to have today is something I haven’t seen all season,” said first-year coach Chris Citowicki.
After a back-and-forth first half, Wyoming changed tactics to start the second and began playing long balls that had Montana pinned deep in its own end for long stretches.
Even so, goalkeeper Claire Howard faced just nine shots in the match and needed to make only four saves to collect her third consecutive and 10th career shutout.
“They got control of the game in the second half and started to do what they like, which is play more direct,” said Citowicki, whose team was whistled for a season-high 17 fouls. “They got a ton of free kicks because we were a little undisciplined with our tackling.
“But Claire and our back line were just amazing. Caitlin Rogers was a beast, as was Taryn Miller. They were just amazing in the air today, and they had to be.”
Late in the second half, Montana made an adjustment, and from then on the Grizzlies had the better chances to finish the game off.
They outshot the Cowgirls 5-1 in the overtime periods, with no chance better to end to the game than Kennedy Yost’s breakaway in the second minute of the second overtime. But Wyoming goalkeeper Hannah Lee made the match-saving save.
“We were losing the midfield and needed to make a change, so tactically we shifted some things around, and that gave us control of the game again,” said Citowicki. “We missed some chances at the end, but we created the better opportunities. They just didn’t go in for us.
“We figured out we can play another way if we have to, and we figured out we have more belief than we thought we did, because physically we were getting outmuscled before we picked it up. A lot of good came out of this match.”
Montana was forced to play without one of its most creative playmakers in Hallie Widner, who is out with an injury. That gave Zoe Transtrum her first career start. She would play 74 minutes and take a team-high three shots.
The match also marked the return of Janessa Fowler, who missed the season’s first five games due to injury. The holding midfielder, named by Top Drawer Soccer as the best player in the Big Sky Conference, entered the match midway through the first half and ended up playing 45 minutes.
She was on the field for less than four minutes before she was putting a shot on goal. She also took Montana’s lone corner kick. “Having Janessa back on the field was such a bonus,” said Citowicki. “She was just incredible.”
Yost matched Transtrum with three shots, putting two on goal, both in the second overtime. Ali Monroe also took three shots. Miller, Rogers and Taylor Hansen played all 110 minutes.
Montana will face UNLV (4-1-1) on Sunday at 2 p.m. (MT). The Rebels play at Northern Arizona on Friday night.