Idaho soccer was out in pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month Friday night against the Grizzlies of Montana. Although the Vandals played a tight defensive game, Montana netted a goal on a loose-ball battle in the closing minutes of overtime to take a 1-0 victory.
Idaho head coach Derek Pittman said he was pleased with the overall team defense, but the offense needed to hold its own.
“I thought our team defending as a whole was absolutely brilliant, I think we gave up very few quality chances,” Pittman said. “It’s a good step forward, in my opinion, how we played, how we worked our tails off. But we’ve got to find a way to ultimately score a goal that can get us a win. Like we’ve talked about in the past, somebody’s going to have to put that on their shoulders and take responsibility and try to win a game for us.”
The first half could be described as inconsistent and frustrating, as both squads struggled mightily to grasp any hold of momentum. Idaho’s defense on the edge held steady, often quelling any attempts by the Grizzlies to push the ball into scoring position.
What worked for the Vandals, however, was also an advantage for Montana. The Grizzlies were able to strip away the ball with considerable tackling whenever an attempt was made for offensive movements by Idaho. The ball often was sailed out of bounds, another reason for the lack of any first-half upper-hands.
Offense was an issue in the first half. Several drives downfield were given up when a first-touch bounced undesirably, often sailing out of bounds.
Idaho and Montana each accumulated five fouls in the first half.
Montana got off three shots in the first half, compared to two for Idaho. Grizzly forward Ellie Otteson had a shot in the 14th, but a jumping save from Vandal junior goalkeeper Makayla Presgrave kept the contest scoreless.
Neither team was awarded a corner kick in the first half.
In a turn of events, both teams came out of the lockers with some offensive fire. Sophomore midfielder Morgan Crosby was awarded the first corner of the game in the 50th minute, and nearly netted it.
Getting past the edges and in scoring position now seemed possible, and both teams took shots at will. Junior defender Claire Johnson slammed the ball toward the corner from 15 yards away on a curving strike, but put her hands on her head in agony as the ball slammed against the crossbar.
After a clutch save by Presgrave in the 87th, senior midfielder Olivia Baggerly was set up with a 20-yard free kick, a spot reminiscent of the one she netted against Memphis. Baggerly’s shot was just a hair too high, and the ball was subsequently dribbled out, putting the contest into overtime.
After Montana’s first corner kick was finally awarded in the eighth minute of overtime, midfielder Charlene Burger placed the ball right where it needed to be. After the ball bounced around in the crowd for what seemed like an eternity, Grizzly forward Allie Lucas saw an opportunity and took it, netting the winning goal with a straight-on strike.
The loss marks the fourth conference defeat for the Vandals this season, more than either of the last two seasons. Montana outshot Idaho 15 to eight, keeping the foot on the gas offensively as was allowed. Presgrave had a strong game performance, recording seven saves, and the Idaho defense again was notable, keeping Montana out of scoring position for the majority.
Idaho will take on the Portland State Vikings 1 p.m. Sunday in the Kibbie Dome.
Colton Clark can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @coltonclark95