MISSOULA — The Montana soccer team wraps up its regular season tomorrow in Cheney, Washington, when the Griz take on Eastern Washington. The game is a makeup from the Sept. 29 meeting that was delayed due to bad weather.
It’s a big one for both teams. The winner locks up the No. 1 seed and a first round bye in next weekend’s Big Sky Conference tournament in Greeley, Colorado. The loser gets the No. 3 seed. A tie gives Eastern the nod and top seed. Sac State is locked into the No. 2 seed.
Montana recently drew 1-1 with Northern Colorado, and head coach Chris Citowicki saw the tie at this time of the year as a learning moment for the cruising Grizzlies, who are 5-0-3 in Big Sky play.
"When you’re doing well you don’t notice some things and so going out there (to Northern Colorado) and having that performance where everything didn’t click perfectly. Scoring early then getting scored on by somebody was different so there’s a couple things that we have to address as a team here before we get to the tournament and why not in a high pressure environment like that?" Citowicki said. "Last year in that environment, we lost. This year, we tie, and I still feel like we’ll be fine in the tournament but Eastern’s going to be a tremendous test and this is what you what.
"The expectation of the athletic department is for us to win titles so, last day of the season, we’re here to try and win a title."
The Big Sky tournament runs Nov. 6-10. The No. 3 seed will take on No. 6 Portland State next Wednesday. The top seed earns a bye straight into the semifinals which are scheduled for next Friday. The championship game is Sunday.
"(A win) could be a huge confidence booster but also at the same time I don't think it would change how we would approach the tournament," junior Taylor Hansen said. "We would still show up and do what we do everyday and trust the process and keep going."