(Editor's note: Montana Athletics release.)
MISSOULA — Maysa Walters, who played a role in both of Montana’s goals in Sunday’s 2-2 draw against Ohio State, has been named the Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Week.
It’s the first Player of the Week honor of her career for the fifth-year senior, who in her second season as a Grizzly has Montana off to a 3-0-1 start.
After helping Montana to a 4-0 home win over MSU Billings on Thursday in the Grizzlies’ home opener, Walters came up big on Sunday evening against the Buckeyes, a 16-time NCAA tournament team.
Walters opened the scoring in the ninth minute when she converted a penalty kick. Her corner kick in the 59th minute led to an own goal that tied the match at 2-2.
Walters was on the field for 73 minutes against Ohio State.
“We often talk about, can you do it in a training session? Can you do it in a game? Can you do it in a game that matters?” said sixth-year coach Chris Citowicki. “That’s the piece that most players fall short on. You get to big games in the NCAA tournament and then don’t perform in that moment.
“Now that Maysa has developed that mental side of the game and her approach to her performance on game day, she is now a big-game player. That was her final evolution. She is a mature professional now and that levels everybody and allows us to stay grounded.”
Walters, who helped create the hand ball in the ninth minute against Ohio State by running interference in front of goal on a Skyleigh Thompson shot, converted the ensuing no-doubt penalty kick.
It was hit with confidence, the type of shot no goalkeeper could stop, even if she knew where it was going. It was that well struck and well placed.
“She’s been wanting that moment, she’s been training for that moment,” said Citowicki. “The way she scored it, she didn’t dribble it in. She pounded it in the corner. Even if the keeper guessed the right way, it would have been hard to save.”
Ohio State answered with goals in the 26th and 30th minutes to go ahead 2-1 and give Montana its first deficit of the season after nearly 300 minutes of being tied or in the lead.
“It was a situation we haven’t been in yet and I think we handled it very well. We had halftime right behind us, so we were able to go in and regroup,” Walters said.
“We fixed a few things in our press but mostly we wanted to go out there and play the way we had been playing because it was working. Honestly, if there had been an overtime period, I think we would have come away winning that game.”
Walters took an in-swinging corner kick in the 59th minute that had the right speed, trajectory and placement. It went over the outstretched hands of Ohio State’s goalkeeper and off the inside shoulder of a Buckeye defender and into the goal.
There was no statistical reward for Walters, but the end result, a draw against Ohio State in front of a record crowd of 1,973, was worth it.
“That support means the world to everyone. It goes to show what having people at our games can really do and how good we can be,” said Walters.
Montana will face Utah Tech on Thursday and Oklahoma on Sunday in Spokane.