(Editor's note: story by Montana Sports Information)
GRAND FORKS, ND - The Montana soccer team opened its season with a 0-0 draw against North Dakota on Friday afternoon at UND’s Bronson Field in Grand Forks.
The teams played to a scoreless tie as well last fall in Missoula.
“Knowing it because I worked here, this is a hard place to come and play,” said coach Chris Citowicki, who was on the Fighting Hawks staff for the 2017 season.
Like Montana, North Dakota had a new playing surface installed in the offseason. But unlike Montana, North Dakota keeps its grass longer, which leads to the type of game played on Friday.
The teams combined for just 10 shots, and Montana junior goalkeeper Claire Howard needed to make just a single save to record her 18th career shutout.
“It’s a new surface, but the grass is double our length, so it’s a slow game. It slowed things down in terms of how we wanted to play,” said Citowicki, whose team kept UND without a shot over the final 68 minutes.
“We defended well at times, and I thought we were pretty organized. We’ve still got some kinks to work out, but a tie on opening day in a place like this? We’ll take it.”
Citowicki started a pair of true freshmen in center back Allie Larsen and forward Emme Fernandez. Larsen would play all 110 minutes alongside Caitlin Rogers.
“Our freshmen were outstanding. I thought all of them were really good,” said Citowicki. “I thought Allie did exceptionally well because they have some kids up front who are really dangerous. And Emme was very strong up top for us.”
All seven subs off the bench were underclassmen, including four more true freshmen. Sydney Haustein played 66 minutes, and Quinn Peacock created one of the team’s best looks deep in the second half.
“Shout-out to Quinn. Her first half was okay, then in the second half she figured it out,” said Citowicki. “She was a collegiate player when she came back on the field. To watch someone grow like that in one game was really cool. And Sydney came on the field and was pulling all the strings all over the place, so we’ve got a bright future.”
Montana put all five of its shots for the match on goal and generated seven of its nine corner kicks in the second half and overtime periods.
The Grizzlies will face North Dakota State at noon (MT) on Sunday in Fargo.