CEDAR CITY, Utah — Montana sophomore McKenzie Warren returned to her home state and scored a pair of first-half goals to lead the Grizzly soccer team to a 2-0 road win at Southern Utah on Sunday afternoon. Stats
Playing in front of her parents and younger sister, who made the 200-mile trip from Pleasant Grove to Cedar City, Warren scored her team-leading third and fourth goals of the season, both unassisted, as Montana (7-5-4, 3-2-2 BSC) picked up its third Big Sky Conference win.
“It was exciting. It’s always fun to play in front of people you know. It brings a good energy,” said Warren.
“We had a lot of excitement going into today, but we were also very focused. It was a fun game for the whole team. We had a lot of good play all the way around. Having my family there just added to the fun for me.”
The win gave Montana, which played to a 2-2 draw at Northern Arizona on Friday night, a four-point road trip. The Grizzlies led the Lumberjacks 2-0 going into the final five minutes of regulation but allowed NAU to scramble back for the tie.
“We made some mistakes in the last five minutes of that game, but overall we played well,” said UM coach Mark Plakorus, whose team is now tied for fifth in the Big Sky standings, three points out of second.
“The girls were in a good frame of mind heading into this game. They knew what we needed to do, so all the credit goes to them in how they prepared themselves and how they came out right from the start and played at a good level.”
Southern Utah (2-10-2, 1-5-1 BSC) is near the bottom of the Big Sky standings, and Montana never gave the Thunderbirds a chance to create any momentum.
SUU took just four shots, only two of which were on goal. Maddie Vincent, who was making her third career start in goal, saved them both to pick up her first collegiate shutout. Vincent, who lived in Butte as a young girl, is the daughter of Butte-Silver Bow Chief Executive Matt Vincent.
“Our back line was really good today,” said Plakorus. “And Maddie got her first shutout, so that was good for her as well.”
Warren, who took four of her team’s nine shots on the afternoon, made it 1-0 at 5:04, Montana’s earliest goal of the season. She struck again at 24:31, giving her four for the season.
Combined with a hellish wind that went diagonally from corner flag to corner flag at a steady 35 miles per hour, with gusts up to 50, making play both unpredictable and mostly non-threatening, Montana had all the scoring it would need.
“It made it hard to play. Anytime the ball was in the air, you didn’t know what was going to happen with it,” said Plakorus, whose team has lost just once in its last six matches.
“Anytime you go on the road in conference, you’re just trying to pick up points. You have to defend your home turf, and you have to get points away from home whenever you can. It would have been nice for us to get the full six on this trip, but I’ll take four.”
Montana will play its final regular-season home matches this week when the Grizzlies host North Dakota (2-11-2, 1-6-0 BSC) on Friday at 3 p.m. at South Campus Stadium and Northern Colorado (8-7-1, 3-4-0 BSC) on Sunday at noon.
Montana, which probably needs to win two of its final three matches to make next month’s six-team Big Sky tournament, finishes the regular season on the road at Eastern Washington on Friday, Oct. 28.
In other Big Sky matches on Sunday, Portland State won at North Dakota, Idaho State won at Weber State, and Sacramento State won at Northern Colorado, all by 1-0 scores.
Northern Arizona won 3-1 at home over Eastern Washington to hand the Eagles only their second loss of the season. NAU’s win was the only victory for a home team in 10 league matches on Friday and Sunday.
— Montana Sports Information