Cougars top Griz soccer, 2-0

PULLMAN, Wash. — Kailiana Johnson scored in the 16th minute and assisted on Washington State’s goal in the 30th minute to lead the Cougars to a 2-0 victory over Montana Sunday afternoon at WSU’s Lower Soccer Field.

Washington State, which has not allowed a goal this season, remains unbeaten at 2-0-1. Montana, which opened its road trip with a 2-0 victory at Gonzaga Friday afternoon, dropped to 2-2-0.

The Cougars, who played to a 0-0 draw at No. 17 BYU on Monday, won their seventh straight home match.

“They are a very good Pac-12 team and a top-25-type team,” said UM coach Mark Plakorus. “They play very fast. They are very organized. That have good athletes, but I thought we held our own.

“I thought we did pretty well. We learned a lot that can help us going forward.”

WSU went up 1-0 at the 15:59 mark when Johnson headed in a corner kick by Cara Wegner, one of the Cougars’ 12 corner kicks in the match. Montana’s defenders, including sophomore goalkeeper Kailey Norman, were in position but a step slow getting to Johnson.

“We came out a little slow and a bit disorganized, and the first goal showed how we were a bit reactive today,” Plakorus said. “We were a bit slow to adjust to the speed of things.

“Washington State posed a much different problem than Gonzaga did. They are more dynamic, and it was harder for us to deal with that. I think our back line learned a lot today, and that’s why we play these games early on.”

Jordan Branch scored at the 29:48 mark. After Johnson’s free kick was blocked by Montana’s wall of defenders, Branch roped one from 25 yards out into the left-side upper 90. “A great hit,” according to Plakorus.

Montana held Washington State, which took 25 shots in the match, off the scoreboard the final 60 minutes, but the Grizzlies never really tested WSU keeper Gurveen Clair, who faced seven shots and made a pair of saves for her 27th career shutout.

Seniors Tyler Adair and Paytyn Wheeler and junior Mackenzie Akins all took two shots, with Akins and redshirt sophomore Savannah Witt both putting a shot on goal.

“We weren’t composed enough in the attack today,” Plakorus said. “But we played hard. I couldn’t ask for anything more than the effort we gave.”

Montana will play a pair of matches in Texas next weekend. The Grizzlies will face Houston Baptist (1-3-0) on Friday night and Texas (2-0-2) next Sunday night, a match that will be broadcast on the Longhorn Network.

— Montana Sports Information

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