Montana builds 2-0 first-half lead, earns third shutout of the season
Montana Invitational to feature Colorado State, Hawaii and Eastern Washington
Three different players score, Hallie Widner collects two assists
Montana and Missouri play at 5:30 p.m. (MT) in Columbia
Penalty kick in 67th minute turns out to be the game-winner for the Longhorns
Montana vs. Carroll (8.16.14)
Montana vs. Southern Utah (10/27/13)
Montana vs. Eastern Washington (10/18/13)
Montana vs. Houston Baptist (9/5/13)
2013 Montana soccer photo day
The 2014 season is Mark Plakorus's fourth year as head coach at the University of Montana and his 16th year as a coach at the NCAA Division I level. He was hired in January 2011 after previously serving as associate head coach at TCU.
Plakorus is just the third coach in the history of the Montana soccer program, following Betsy Duerksen (1994-2003) and Neil Sedgwick (2004-10).
Plakorus was hired to return a program that had slipped from the Big Sky Conference's elite teams back to a championship level. It didn't take long.
In his first three seasons he has led the Grizzlies to a pair of Big Sky titles and a record of 25-26-11 and Big Sky mark of 12-10-3. In the two seasons before Plakorus arrived, Montana won a total of seven matches.
In Plakorus's first year, in 2011, Montana doubled its wins total from three to six and more than tripled its goal output from 8 to 27. In 2012, the Grizzlies upped their win total to 12, the most wins in a season in more than a decade.
Montana finished one game below .500 in 2013 and missed the conference tournament, but the Grizzlies were the Big Sky's hottest team late in the season, winning three of their last four and four of their last six matches.
Plakorus led Montana to back-to-back Big Sky championships in his first two years with the Grizzlies. In 2011 it was a tournament championship; in 2012 a regular-season title.
Playing as the No. 4 seed at the 2011 tournament, Montana upset No. 1 Northern Colorado and No. 3 Weber State to advance to its first NCAA tournament since 2000. The Grizzlies lost a competitive first-round match to eventual national champion Stanford.
A year later Montana shared the regular-season title, its first since 2000, and lost in the tournament championship match in a shootout. The Grizzlies ended their season on an eight-match unbeaten streak and matched a program record with a dozen shutouts.
The team tied for 11th nationally in shutout percentage (.571).
Plakorus coached Lauren Costa, Erin Craig and India Watne to first-team All-Big Sky Conference honors in 2011, the most first-team selections for the program since 2006.
Costa and Craig were first-team repeats in 2012, with Costa being named the Big Sky Defensive MVP and Craig the co-Offensive MVP.
The Grizzlies had three second-team All-Big Sky selections in 2013: Watne, Maddey Frey and Brooke Moody.
Montana has also excelled academically under Plakorus. The Grizzlies have earned the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Team Academic Award the last three seasons and placed 13 athletes on the 2011 Academic All-Big Sky Conference team, 17 in 2012 and 17 in 2013.
Montana's 2011-13 successes at a glance:
2011 NSCAA Team Academic Award (3.23 GPA)
2012 NSCAA Team Academic Award (3.26 GPA)
2013 NSCAA Team Academic Award (3.43 GPA)
2011: 13 Academic All-Big Sky Conference selections
2012: 17 Academic All-Big Sky Conference selections
2013: 17 Academic All-Big Sky Conference selections
2012 NSCAA All-Pacific Region (third team): Erin Craig
2013 NSCAA All-Pacific Region (third team): Maddey Frey
2012 NSCAA Scholar All-West Region (first team): Lauren Costa
2013 NSCAA Scholar All-West Region (second team): Maddey Frey
2011 Big Sky Conference Offensive Players of the Week: 3
2012 Big Sky Conference Offensive Players of the Week: 2
2012 Big Sky Conference Defensive Players of the Week: 3
2013 Big Sky Conference Offensive Players of the Week: 2
2013 Big Sky Conference Defensive Players of the Week: 2
2011 Big Sky Conference All-Tournament team: 5 (including MVP India Watne)
2012 Big sky Conference All-Tournament team: 4
2011 All- Big Sky Conference: 3 first team, 2 honorable mention
2012 All- Big Sky Conference: 2 first team, 1 second team, 6 honorable mention
2012 Big Sky Conference individual awards: Lauren Costa (Defensive MVP), Erin Craig (co-Offensive MVP)
2013 All-Big Sky Conference: 3 second team, 2 honorable mention
2012 Senior CLASS Award finalist: Lauren Costa
* 2011 team made first Big Sky Conference tournament since 2008
* 2011 team won first Big Sky Conference tournament championship since 2000
* 2011 team advanced to first NCAA tournament since 2000
* 2012 team advanced to Big Sky Conference tournament, first back-to-back appearances since 2003-04
* 2011 team doubled wins total from 3 (in 2010) to 6; 2012 team doubled that again to 12
* 2011 team more than tripled goal output from 8 (in 2010) to 27
* 2012 team decreased goals allowed from 42 (in 2011) to 18
* 2012 team won first Big Sky Conference regular-season championship since 2000
* Kristen Hoon's 10 shutouts in 2012 set new program record
* 2012 team's 12 shutouts matched program record
* 2012 team finished season on an eight-match unbeaten streak; seven of those eight matches were shutouts
* 2013 team won four of its last six matches, three by shutout
Big Sky Conference statistical leaders
* 2011 team: 1st in corner kicks (107)
* 2011 individual: Erin Craig 1st in shots (3.86/g), points (1.10/g) and goals (10), India Watne 1st in assists (8)
* 2012 team: 1st in assists (23), goals against average (0.82), shutouts (12), corner kicks (123, 35 more than any other league team)
* 2012 individual: Erin Craig 1st in shots (3.71/g), Kristen Hoon 1st in goals against average (0.84), shutouts (10)
* 2013 team: 1st in shots (16.0/g), corner kicks (90)
* 2013 individual: India Watne 1st in shots (3.16/g)
Plakorus spent three seasons (1999-2001) at Air Force, two at Iowa (2002-03) and one at Tulsa (2004) before joining the TCU staff. He finished his sixth season with the Horned Frogs in 2010 before joining the Grizzlies.
TCU had had four straight losing seasons prior to the arrival of head coach Dan Abdalla and Plakorus in 2005. By 2008 the Horned Frogs were 14-4-2, had become a nationally ranked program and had set a program record with 47 goals in 20 matches, making TCU the 18th most prolific offense in the nation.
Plakorus, who spent 11 years in the Air Force, has ties to Montana that date back nearly two decades.
He was stationed at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls from 1994 to 1999 and has been one of the directors of the Flathead Soccer Camp in Kalispell since 1998.
In addition to his Air Force duties at Malmstrom, Plakorus became the director of coaching and player development for the Electric City Soccer Club, started the boys soccer program at Great Falls High School and rose to the role of director of the Montana girls Olympic Development Program.
In those roles, Plakorus saw a number of his former players go on to play for the Grizzlies, who at the time were being coached by Duerksen.
Plakorus graduated from Kansas in 1990 with a degree in computer science. He played club soccer at KU and was a member of the ROTC. He added a master's degree in sport administration from Western Kentucky in 2012.
Montana year-by-year under Plakorus
2011 ... 6-12-4, 3-3-1 BSC (4th) ... Big Sky Conference tournament champions, NCAA tournament
2012 ... 12-6-3, 6-2-1 BSC (t-1st) ... Big Sky Conference regular-season co-champions
2013 ... 7-8-4, 3-5-1 BSC (t-6th)
Plakorus's coaching resume
1999-2001: Assistant coach, Air Force
2002-03: Assistant coach, Iowa
2004: Assistant coach, Tulsa
2005-10: Assistant/associate head coach, TCU
2011-present: Head coach, Montana
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