Womens Soccer

Maddy Emerick takes the ball up towards the goal in preparation the game against Northern Colorado last weekend. The Griz lost 2-1 to Idaho State after hosting the Big Sky Conference tournament for the first time in 14 years.

The shot at a perfect season for the Grizzly soccer team ended last Friday afternoon.

Players collapsed on the pitch sobbing and seniors hugged one another after the team lost 2-1 in the Big Sky Conference semifinals to Idaho State. 

The Grizzlies had a target on their back coming into the conference tournament.

The team was perfect in conference, going 8-0-2 before the game, and was the No. 1 seed. It was the first time since 2000 that Montana hosted the tournament. 

Everything leading up to Friday was new for this batch of Griz players. 

"For our whole program, it's a new experience to be the top seed at home and be the favorite," head coach Mark Plakorus said. "It's a different experience for everyone, hopefully we'll take that and learn from it and be better because of it." 

Most of the first half was quiet until redshirt sophomore Savannah Witt scored the first goal of the game.

In the 35th minute, she took a header that bounced off the post from freshman Allie Lucas. It was Witt's third goal of the season and her career. 

Montana went into the locker room up 1-0, but both teams came out firing in the second half. The Bengals had nine shots in the second half compared to two in the first and took three corner kicks. 

Idaho State tied it up in the 72nd minute.

Conference-leading scorer Amanda Ellsworth scored her 16th goal of the season with an assist from Madeline Gochnour from 12 yards out. Montana tried to follow with shots from Lucas and freshman Hallie Widner, but both failed to score. 

The Bengals went up 2-1 four minutes later when Katherine Roberts scored her fourth goal on a redirected shot. It looked like the Grizzlies had tied it up after a goal from senior Tyler Adair a few minutes later, but the goal was called offsides. 

As the minutes ticked down, Montana didn't connect with the back of the net again. It was the end of the season for the Grizzlies and its six seniors. 

"I think we're kind of still in shock," Adair said, tearing up. "It's weird walking off that field, and it's not clicking that we're not going to walk back on it."

During the match, Witt had four shots and three on goal. Widner also had four shots with two on goal. Montana took 15 shots, seven corner kicks and six shots on goal. 

Northern Arizona University went on to defeat the Bengals and won the BSC tournament. 

This year was just one more year of growing pains for the Grizzly soccer program.

Over the past four seasons since Plakorus took over, the team has won the regular season title, won the conference tournament and played in the NCAA tournament. This year's seniors were the first group to play all four years with Plakorus, and they experienced all the ups and downs. 

Lucas said she wishes she could redo Friday's game, but she's storing away many of the positives from this season for next year. 

"I think I speak for all the freshmen when I say that our main goal is to carry on what we did this year," Lucas said. "We want to bring the leadership that the seniors brought. It's something I want to strive for, we want to keep it up the next three years."