(Editor’s note: story by Montana Sports Information)
POCATELLO, ID – It won’t show up on any weather app, but conditions turned decidedly better — at least from the perspective of the Montana soccer team — just before 6 p.m. on Friday evening in the Pocatello, Idaho, area.
“The sun is a little brighter. The sky is a little bluer. You can see everybody smiling. Winning just makes everything better,” said Griz coach Chris Citowicki, whose team defeated Idaho State 1-0 for its first Big Sky Conference win and the team’s first victory since Aug. 31.
“The players are excited about it. It will give them some extra enthusiasm as we go forward.”
The teams combined for 37 shots but only put 10 of those on goal. It was the last of them — Alexa Coyle’s strike from 15 yards out in the 81st minute — that broke the scoreless deadlock.
It was only the fourth shot on goal for the Grizzlies (2-6-4, 1-1-2 BSC), who persisted against Idaho State’s high trap, which is even more frustrating to face on ISU’s small field.
“Their style of play is aggressive and very difficult to play against. It was hard for us to solve it. You’re forced to play a lot of through balls, and it’s not easy to time those and get them done correctly,” said Citowicki. “But I still believed it was just going to be a matter of time.”
Montana’s golden moment occurred with less than 10 minutes to go in regulation, and it didn’t require any timing or through ball. And on this day it would not require overtime, as the Grizzlies’ first three league matches did.
Coyle collected the ball with her back to the goal, spun around a defender and shot from 15 yards out for her second goal of the season, which matches Kennedy Yost for the team lead.
“Alexa did it on her own. She got the ball, turned, dribbled in and finished. We needed someone to step up and she definitely did,” said Citowicki.
Idaho State took 20 shots, just two off the most the Grizzlies have faced this season, but goalkeeper Claire Howard was hardly tested.
She made six saves, almost all of them routine, at least for her, as she picked up her fifth shutout of the season, the 12th of her career.
Montana will face Weber State (5-3-4, 3-0-1 BSC) at 1 p.m. on Sunday in Ogden, Utah, a place the Grizzlies have not won since 2006.
“We’re excited about this one, no doubt, but at the same time we’ve got to get back to work,” said Citowicki. “We have another huge game on Sunday.”