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Montana goalkeeper Camellia Xu wins third straight weekly conference defensive award

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Posted at 6:12 PM, Oct 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-05 20:12:21-04

(Editor's note: University of Montana athletics press release)

MISSOULA—Montana redshirt freshman goalkeeper Camellia Xu was named the Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Week on Tuesday. 

It marks the third straight week that Xu has been recognized and the fourth time this season. It’s the first time since 2005 that a Big Sky athlete has been named the Defensive Player of the Week four times in one season. 

Xu was honored after posting her seventh and eighth shutouts of the season last weekend as Montana blanked Sacramento State and Portland State at South Campus Stadium in Missoula to extend its shutout streak to seven, which matches a program record. 

The Grizzlies defeated Sacramento State on Friday, 1-0, and played to a 0-0 draw with Portland State on Sunday, with Xu making four saves in each match. 

Xu’s eighth shutout set a new program record for clean sheets by a freshman and leave her two away from the single-season record of 10, set by Kristen Hoon in 2012, then matched by Claire Howard in 2018. 

The shutouts dropped Xu’s goals-against average to 0.61 and upped her save percentage to .877. 

Montana hasn’t allowed a goal since Sept. 5, a stretch of 665 scoreless minutes. The Grizzlies have faced 87 consecutive shots without allowing one to reach the net. 

Xu is good. Really good. But what she’s trying to avoid is that feeling she had back on Aug. 19 in Omaha, Neb., when she was in goal in the second overtime and a headed ball sailed past her and gave Creighton a 2-1 win with just 46 seconds left on the clock. 

“The biggest reminder of what it feels like to be scored on is Creighton,” she said. “To see that ball go over my head in the last minute of double overtime and watch it bounce into the net, and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it, that’s just something I reflect on a lot. 

“That’s something I don’t want to ever happen again. It’s a demoralizing feeling.” 

She’ll face her biggest test of Montana’s Big Sky schedule on Sunday when Montana (7-4-1, 3-0-1 BSC) plays at league leader Northern Colorado (6-6-2, 4-0-0 BSC) in Greeley at noon. 

The Bears have scored 11 goals through their four league matches, at least two in each match, and haven’t lost to the Grizzlies at Jackson Stadium since 2009.