MISSOULA — The Montana women's soccer program topped Sacramento State 2-0 on Thursday afternoon at South Campus Stadium to clinch the Big Sky Conference regular-season title.
It's Montana's first outright regular-season title in the fall season since 2019. UM won a share of the regular-season title during the Spring 2021 season.
"This one is definitely one of my favorite ones, it's just awesome," UM head coach Chris Citowicki said. "We've got a really good group and what went on in the locker room there (afterwards) was absolutely out of control, just loved it.
"It's a long road back from where we were and they've put in so much work behind the scenes, I'm just so happy that they get to celebrate like that because of it."
The Grizzlies got goals from Skyleigh Thompson in the 16th minute and Eliza Bentler in the 65th.
After a couple of close opportunities for the Grizzlies, Thompson got Montana on the board after a cross from Abby Gearhart was tipped, but Thompson was there waiting to put the ball in the back of the net.
"It's great. This team, we just work so hard and we have such a unity with us so it really feels good to win just with your best friends and just a great staff and fans around you. It was a great feeling," Thompson said.
From start to finish, Montana was in control of the match, but, despite a number of close calls, couldn't add to its lead and tack on more goals.
UM eventually struck gold again when Delaney Lou Schorr put a cross into the box that found Bentler, which put Montana up 2-0 and proved to be plenty in the victory as the Grizzlies celebrated in raucous jubilation when the final horn sounded.
"I mean, we continue to say we're 31 strong and I think we did a really good job at using the older players help integrate the new players and becoming a really cohesive unit which is awesome," senior defender Charley Boone said about the team's successful season.
"I think the message coming in was being a professional team and just getting the job done, and that means just not coming out in a way that's going to hurt us, but coming out on top and we did that today and got the job done," senior midfielder Sydney Haustein added.
Montana put up 23 total shots, eight of which were on goal, with a handful more just over the net. Thompson and Schorr finished with five shots each.
Goalkeeper Ashlyn Dvorak finished with two saves, the first of which came in impressive fashion in the first half with the game 0-0 as the freshman stepped up in the big moment.
"This has been our goal since we started and obviously the work isn't done yet but feels good to be able to celebrate here today, and we'll just continue working hopefully to get that Big Sky (tournament) trophy next," Thompson added.
After checking off this goal on their list, the Grizzlies (12-2-3) will wrap up the regular season with a home game against Portland State on Sunday at noon. Then, Montana is off until the Big Sky Conference tournament which will be held in Flagstaff, Arizona.
With the regular-season title, UM earns the No. 1 seed at the conference tournament and a bye into the semifinals, with their first game taking place on Friday, Nov. 3.