(Editor's note: University of Montana media release)
MISSOULA — The Montana soccer team, which has won a Big Sky Conference championship in each of coach Chris Citowicki’s first four seasons leading the Grizzlies, has been picked second in the league’s preseason coaches’ poll, the Big Sky office announced.
Montana, which collected two first-place votes, came in behind perennial contender and nemesis Northern Colorado. The Bears, with a league record of 8-1-0, won the regular-season title last fall and collected six of the nine available first-place votes in this year’s poll.
Weber State came in third and picked up the other first-place vote. The Grizzlies defeated the Wildcats in last year’s Big Sky tournament championship match to send them to their third NCAA tournament under Citowicki.
Northern Arizona and Idaho rounded out the top five. They were followed by Sacramento State, Eastern Washington, Portland State and Idaho State.
Montana has gone 29-5-8 against Big Sky opponents under Citowicki. Three of those five losses have come against Northern Colorado and longtime Bears coach Tim Barrera, two in overtime, the other a 1-0 result last fall.
The teams, who have combined to win the last four Big Sky tournament titles, will play their regular-season matchup on Sunday, Oct. 9, at South Campus Stadium in Missoula.
Montana opens its league schedule with matches at Sacramento State and Portland State on Sept. 23 and 25, then plays four straight matches at home, against Idaho (Sept. 30), Eastern Washington (Oct. 2), Northern Colorado and Northern Arizona (Oct. 16).
The Grizzlies conclude the regular season at Idaho State (Oct. 21) and Weber State (Oct. 23).
The six-team Big Sky tournament will open on Wednesday, Nov. 2, in Greeley, Colo., with a pair of quarterfinal matches. Semifinals will be played on Friday, Nov. 4, the championship match on Sunday, Nov. 6.
Montana went 7-1-1 in league last season to finish second behind Northern Colorado. The Grizzlies finished 13-6-1 overall, the most wins for the program since 2000.
Montana has won regular-season titles under Citowicki in 2019 and ’20 and tournament championships in 2018, ’20 and ’21.
The Grizzlies will host Trinity Western on Monday at 3 p.m. at South Campus Stadium in their lone exhibition match, then open the regular season by hosting the Rumble in the Rockies.
Montana will face Creighton on Friday at 4 p.m. and Pittsburgh at 4 p.m. on Sunday.
2022 Big Sky Preseason Coaches’ Poll
1. Northern Colorado (6) – 61
2. Montana (2) – 54
3. Weber State (1) – 51
4. Northern Arizona – 43
5. Idaho – 35
6. Sacramento State – 30
7. Eastern Washington – 26
8. Portland State – 14
9. Idaho State – 10