Sept. 25, 2012
Montana senior Lauren Costa has been named the Big Sky Conference co-Defensive Player of the Week the league office announced Tuesday. Costa was recognized for her efforts in leading the Grizzlies to a 1-0-1 record last weekend as the team opened Big Sky play.
Costa shared this week's honor with Northern Colorado defender Janelle Kramer. The UNC senior helped the Bears post shutout victories last weekend over Portland State and Sacramento State.
The award is the first player of the week for Costa, but her name is a familiar one at the league office. Costa is a three-time Academic All-Big Sky Conference selection (accounting major, 3.71 GPA), she was named second-team All-Big Sky as a freshman, first-team last season, and last November she made the all-tournament team after helping Montana to the Big Sky tournament championship.
Costa, who is one of 30 finalists nationwide for the 2012 Senior CLASS award, which recognizes excellence in the areas of community, classroom, character and competition, was instrumental last weekend as the Grizzlies opened league play with a 1-1 tie against Idaho State Friday and a 1-0 victory over Weber State Sunday at South Campus Stadium.
Costa played all 200 minutes at center back against the Bengals and Wildcats and was a key piece in Montana allowing just five shots on goal in the two matches.
But what elevated her weekend to player of the week level was the added threat she posed as an offensive weapon.
Costa scored the game-winner in Sunday's victory against Weber State when she headed in junior Mary Makris's corner kick in the 17th minute. It was the first game-winner of Costa's career and her second career goal. She scored her first goal against North Dakota as a freshman in 2009.
"Lauren does so much for us," UM coach Mark Plakorus said. "She is our leader defensively in how she communicates and the example she sets. She organizes our defense and is a big part of what we do.
"Attacking-wise she is very good in the air, especially on set pieces. She's a big target, and she finds the ball very well. She's come close (to scoring) a number of times this year, so it was nice to see her get one Sunday."
Costa, who possesses a leg that would be the envy of many college football kickers, takes most of Montana's free kicks and frequently puts her teammates in position to score.
Her free kick from near midfield at Wyoming in the season opener was headed in by senior Erin Craig in the 56th minute for the Grizzlies' second goal in their 2-0 victory.
Costa also assisted on freshman Mackenzie Akins' game-winning goal in the 107th minute in Montana's 3-2 double-overtime victory over Idaho at Boise earlier this month.
Costa's header off Makris's corner kick was saved by a Vandal defender. Akins collected the rebound and scored her first career goal.
"That's Lauren. She just does a lot for our team," Plakorus repeated. "She is very accurate with her distribution, especially on free kicks, and that gives us another dimension to our attack. It's something else that teams have to prepare for."
Montana (5-4-2, 1-0-1 BSC), which has lost just once in its last seven matches, will continue Big Sky Conference play this weekend with matches at Portland State (3-6-1, 1-1-0 BSC) and Sacramento State (3-5-2, 1-1-0 BSC).
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