MISSOULA – Montana took on a tough non-conference soccer schedule and suffered some lumps along the way. But the team looked ready to start Big Sky Conference play out on the right foot, until a gut-wrenching finish on Sunday.
The Grizzlies led Northern Colorado 1-0 deep into the second half, looking for revenge on the team that knocked them out of the Big Sky tournament a year ago. But the Bears scored the tying goal in the final three minutes, and then put in the winner in double overtime, just like they did in that last meeting.
The result stings, but UM has no chance to dwell on it.
“I would say it’s probably my most painful loss since I got here,” said first-year head coach Chris Citowicki. “Because to be that close to a team that we haven’t beaten since 2014, and be that close to it and for it to slip through our fingers, it hurt, definitely. But it just adds fuel to the fire for what’s coming next.”
“I think we have a good perspective in the way that there is a lot to learn from that game, and also a lot of good to take from it,” said sophomore forward Alexa Coyle. “I think it was painful. But at the same point I’m already ready and focused on the next opponent, which is Eastern (Washington). I think that’s our focus now.”
Montana will need a great bounce-back week. The Griz get to stay at home, but preseason Big Sky favorite Eastern Washington comes to town at 3 p.m. Friday. Then the Griz take on Idaho, the only team 2-0 so far in league, on Sunday at 1 p.m. Citowicki said the Eagles and Vandals are two of the most physical teams in the conference.