(Editor's note: University of Montana media release)
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Everything was stacked against Montana on Thursday night in Flagstaff. An electric atmosphere under the lights, the defending Big Sky Conference champions playing on their home field and an early deficit after Northern Arizona (8-4-3, 3-2-1) opened the scoring in the 12th minute.
All the Grizzlies did while facing that adversity was tie it a few minutes later, then come through with the game-winner in the 84th minute to give coach Chris Citowicki his 100th win as a collegiate head coach.
“This has got to be top five. Pretty cool,” he said. “Super proud of this team for keeping its focus and getting it done.
“I was going to say something to the team at the end of the game but Ashlyn Dvorak bursts in and started screaming That’s how you win a game! and everybody went nuts. She said everything I wanted to say. That’s how you win a game in the Big Sky.”
Citowicki won 47 games at St. Catherine and picked up his 53rd at Montana thanks to goals by Skyleigh Thompson in the first half and Delaney Lou Schorr in the closing minutes, both coming as you might expect.
After the Lumberjacks, who were the aggressors through the match’s first 15 minutes, opened the scoring in the 12th minute, just the fifth match this season the Grizzlies have faced a deficit, Thompson evened it with a goal only she could pull off.
She collected an NAU turnover near midfield, outran defenders up the right side, cut inside and fired a left-footed shot from 20 yards out that Lumberjack goalkeeper Trinity Corcoran lunged for but couldn’t touch.
It was the response Montana needed.
“We knew they were going to come out and get chances and might score a goal. Really cool atmosphere in the facility. You could just feel it was going to be a different game when you walked in here today,” said Citowicki. “It was just, don’t get in your heads. Just keep going until we can find a way to win. This group was absolutely on edge and ready to win this game today. No surprise that they did it.”
Behind some excellent defensive work by the back line and seven saves by Dvorak, who faced 18 shots, eight of them on goal, with six of her saves coming in the second half, Montana took a 1-1 match to halftime, then deep into the chilly night.
The Grizzlies got their break when Northern Arizona was whistled for a foul 10 yards inside the midline. It was the perfect setup for Ava Samuelson to loft a ball to the head of Delaney Lou Schorr, a connection that had already accounted for three goals this season.
Make it four. Schorr rose to meet Samuelson’s pass and headed it inside the left post in the 84th minute. It was career goal No. 12 for Schorr, career assist No. 12 for Samuelson. It only feels like they have all come on the same dozen scoring plays.
The win extended Montana’s unbeaten streak to seven, keeps the Grizzlies unbeaten since Sept. 10 and has Montana (10-2-3, 4-0-1 BSC) tied atop the Big Sky standings with Portland State.
Montana will close out its road trip with a match at noon on Sunday at Northern Colorado (0-11-4, 0-2-3 BSC).