(University of Montana media release)
MISSOULA -- Montana junior outside back Taylor Hansen, voted first-team All-Big Sky Conference last month, was named third-team All-West Region on Monday by the United Soccer Coaches.
The West Region is made up of the 38 teams in the Big Sky, Big West and West Coast conferences plus the Summit League.
Montana has now had an all-region player seven of the last eight years. Hansen, one of five from the Big Sky Conference to be recognized, becomes the Grizzlies' 17th all-region selection in program history.
Hansen made all-region as a defender and for good reason. She is a shutdown outside back for a team that allowed 16 goals in 19 matches and posted nine shutouts while winning the Big Sky regular-season championship.
But to appreciate Hansen is to think outside the box of what is expected of a typical outside back.
Hansen's box is the entirety of the soccer field. She has both the skill and fitness to play end line to end line and to do it for 90 minutes. Or up to 110 if that's what's needed.
"The coaches in our region saw the same thing we all see and that's her athleticism first and foremost. The kid can run forever. The amount of ground she covers is incredible," said coach Chris Citowicki.
"The number of balls she puts into the box and into dangerous spots if remarkable. And then defensively it's really hard to get by her. You have to go to the other side of the field.
"She is the complete package, end line to end line, box to box."
Hansen tied for third on the team with 15 shots and had a pair of assists to run her career total to six.
Both of her assists came during a weekend home sweep of Weber State and Idaho State. She assisted on Rita Lang's game-winner in the Grizzlies' 1-0 victory over the Wildcats and on McKenzie Kilpatrick's equalizer in Montana's come-from-behind 2-1 victory over the Bengals.
Defensively she was an important piece of a unit that allowed two goals in nine regular-season Big Sky matches as the Grizzlies won the league title with a 6-0-3 record.
Remove Washington State, one of four teams left in the NCAA tournament, along with Stanford, UCLA and North Carolina, from the list of fall results and Montana allowed 10 goals in 18 matches.
None of those opponents scored more than one goal in regulation against the Grizzlies.
"She is part of a back line that is so incredibly strong and hardly gives up any goals," said Citowicki.
"The confidence we get knowing Taylor is playing as our outside back is unbelievable. It makes us feel very safe. Everyone knows whatever comes down her side isn't getting through us."
Hansen will be one of five seniors next season for Montana, which won't lose anyone to graduation.