Aug. 30, 2012
The Montana soccer team will be in Boise, Idaho, this weekend for the Bronco Invitational and face Boise State and Idaho. The Grizzlies will play the Broncos Friday at 6 p.m. and the Vandals Sunday at 11:30 a.m.
The tournament's fourth team is Idaho State. The Bengals will play Idaho Friday at 3:30 p.m. and BSU Sunday at 2 p.m. All four tournament matches will be played at the Boas Soccer Complex.
If you can't make it: Griz soccer fans unable to make the trip can monitor the matches via live stats at BroncoSports.com.
Where they stand: Montana is 1-3-0 after dropping a pair of matches last weekend at TCU's tournament. The Grizzlies lost the host Horned Frogs, 1-0, on Friday and 4-0 to Texas Tech on Sunday.
Boise State is 2-2-0 with two very different weekends under its belt. The Broncos opened the season at home two weeks ago with 1-0 and 4-1 victories over New Mexico State and North Dakota State. Last weekend BSU lost at Washington State, 6-0, and 2-1 at Gonzaga.
Idaho is also 2-2-0. The Vandals have an opponent in common with Montana in Texas Tech. Idaho opened the season with a 2-1 loss at Tech. Since then the Vandals have victories over South Dakota, 1-0 in overtime, and North Dakota State, 2-0, and a home loss to Gonzaga, 3-2.
Tight matches expected: Montana played Boise State twice last season -- once at Boise, once at Idaho's tournament -- and came away with a pair of dramatic double-overtime victories. In the Grizzlies' match against Idaho last fall, the teams scored goals back and forth until the Vandals netted the match-winner in the 78th minute.
Montana and Boise State have met 11 times previously, and nine of those were one-game matches. One was a draw, the other a two-goal differential.
"These are two teams we're very familiar with," UM coach Mark Plakorus said. "They are both very well coached and will be very prepared this weekend. I expect two really good, competitive matches for us.
"The teams are close enough (geographically) that they are somewhat rivals with us. We usually play them every year, so the kids are excited about getting after it and seeing what we can do.
"I'm hoping we learned some lessons last weekend that we can apply to these matches and keep growing as a team."
More on Boise State: The Broncos went 8-11-1 a year ago and finished fifth in the Mountain West Conference at 2-4-0. ... Boise State was picked sixth in this year's MWC preseason poll. ... Six different players have scored BSU's six goals this season. ... Redshirt sophomore Maddy McDevitt has played all 360 minutes in goal. She replaced Liz Ruiz, who graduated as Boise State's career leader in wins, shutouts and goals against average.
History: Montana has split its series history with Boise State, 5-5-1. The Grizzlies are 2-2-0 in matches at Boise, with wins there their last two trips, including last year's season opener in Plakorus's first match when India Watne scored in the 108th minute.
More on Idaho: The Vandals went 8-11-3 last season and finished fifth in the Western Athletic Conference at 3-3-1. ... Idaho was picked fifth in the preseason WAC poll. ... The Vandals return a stacked roster of nine returning starters and 19 returning letterwinners, none more dangerous than senior forward Chelsea Small. The Solana Beach, Calif., native is a three-time first-team All-WAC selection and has 33 career goals, one fewer than Montana's entire 2012 team has for its career. She scored Idaho's second goal in the teams' meeting last season. ... Just the opposite of Boise State, Idaho has great experience in net. Senior Liz Boyden has 59 starts for her career.
History: Montana holds a slim 5-4 edge over Idaho in the teams' history that dates back to 1998. The teams have split their two neutral-site matchups.
Something else to watch: Idaho State sits atop the Big Sky Conference standings through two weekends at a perfect 3-0-0. The Bengals have wins over North Dakota State, 3-2, New Mexico State, 2-0, and Minot State, 4-0. ISU, which was picked seventh in this year's preseason coaches' poll, started 3-0-0 last season, then went winless in its next 10 matches.
No cause for alarm: Montana scored 10 goals in its first four matches last season. Through four matches this season the Grizzlies are sitting on two goals and have not scored since early in the second half of their season-opening 2-0 victory at Wyoming.
It's nothing to be worried about, claims Plakorus, and the numbers back him up. Montana has taken 32 shots in its three-match scoreless streak and put 15 of those shots on goal. The Grizzlies' opponents have put 20 shots on goal in those matches and have scored on six.
"That's just soccer," Plakorus says. "We are creating chances to score. There has not been a game this year when we did not have our opportunities to score. We just have to do a better job of staying composed when those opportunities come our way.
"We're doing the right things and putting ourselves in the right position. If we keep doing those things, the goals will come. It's not something you can force."
Upcoming: Montana will be on the road for the fourth straight weekend to open the season when the Grizzlies play next weekend in the UNLV Nike Invitational at Las Vegas. Montana will face Indiana State Friday and the host Rebels Sunday.
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