Mackenzie Akins leads the Big Sky Conference in shots
Oct. 3, 2013
The Montana soccer team will play its first Big Sky Conference home matches of the season when it hosts Sacramento State and Portland State this weekend at South Campus Stadium in Missoula.
The Grizzlies and Hornets will play at 3 p.m. on Friday. The Grizzlies and Vikings will square off at noon on Sunday.
Coverage: Both matches will have video coverage that is available exclusively to subscribers on the GoGriz.com All-Access page. Shaun Radley will call the action for both matches. Live stats will also be available. Links to both can be found on the soccer schedule page at GoGriz.com.
Montana (3-4-4, 0-1-1 BSC) opened its Big Sky schedule at Weber State and Idaho State and came away with one point after losing 2-0 to the Wildcats last Thursday and tying the Bengals 1-1 on Saturday.
Portland State (5-4-1, 2-0-0 BSC) swept Northern Colorado, 3-1, and North Dakota, 1-0, to pick up six important points. Sacramento State (5-4-2, 1-0-1 BSC) defeated North Dakota, 1-0, and tied with Northern Colorado, 0-0, for four points.
Weber State (6-2-2, 2-0-0 BSC) and Idaho State (4-5-1, 1-0-1 BSC) also picked up six and four points last weekend, respectively.
The goal for Montana this weekend: Win and close the gap on the Big Sky leaders. The goal for Sacramento State and Portland State this weekend: Increase their lead on the Grizzlies, who were picked third in the preseason coaches' poll and who have played in the tournament championship match the last two seasons.
Trending: Portland State joins Weber State as the Big Sky's two hottest teams. The Vikings are 5-1-1 over their last seven matches and have allowed just two goals in those matches after giving up 11 during their 0-3 start to the season.
Sacramento State has been nearly as hot, though not as stingy on the defensive end. The Hornets are 4-1-2 over their last seven, though five of those seven matches came at home.
Against a common opponent with Montana, Sac State lost 3-2 at Nevada. The Grizzlies shut out the Wolf Pack 2-0 at South Campus Stadium two weeks ago.
Who to watch: Portland State junior Eryn Brown and Sac State sophomore Alyssa Anderson lead the Big Sky Conference with six goals. Brown also has five assists for a Big Sky-leading 17 points.
In a rare occurrence, Brown leads the Big Sky in both goals and assists. Brown collected nearly half of those points in PSU's 7-0 win over New Mexico State on Sept. 1 in Las Vegas. Brown had three goals and two assists against the Aggies.
A return to the scene: Montana is unbeaten in its last 12 home matches (7-0-5) at South Campus Stadium. The last team to beat the Grizzlies at home? Sacramento State on Oct. 7, 2011.
In that match the Hornets scored in the 12th minute on a cold, rainy day on a soggy field, and Sac State kept Montana off the board despite the Grizzlies' 19 shots in a 1-0 victory.
Home dominance: Teams playing at home last week went 6-1-2. The only team to pick up a win on the road was Northern Arizona, 3-2 in overtime at Southern Utah.
Top keepers on display: Three of the Big Sky's top five goalkeepers (in goals-against-average) will be on the field this weekend. Sac State junior Kimberly Mata ranks second (1.02), Portland State sophomore Caitlin Plese ranks fourth (1.11) and Montana senior Kendra McMillen ranks fifth (1.17).
Mata leads the Big Sky in save percentage (.842), and Mata and Plese are both tied for second with four shutouts. McMillen has three.
A lineup of snipers: Portland State has scored 19 goals this season, the most in the Big Sky, and 10 different Vikings have scored those goals. Montana, which has 13 goals, and Sacramento State, which has 12, both have six goal scorers.
Game notes: Montana leads the Big Sky in shots (14.8/g) but ranks just sixth in goals (1.2/g). ... Sacramento State (49) and Montana (45) rank 1-2 in corner kicks. ... Sophomore Mackenzie Akins (3.5/g) and senior India Watne (3.3/g) rank 1-2 in the Big Sky in shots. Akins is tied for second in the league with four assists. ... Don't leave at halftime: Through 11 matches this season, Montana and its opponent have combined to score just five goals in the first half. After halftime they've scored 22, even though Montana's matches have seen 154 first-half shots and 154 second-half shots.
Montana-Sacramento State history: Since defeating Sac State at home in 2003, Montana has had just one win over the Hornets in the last 10 meetings, though there have been four ties during that time, and only three of those 10 matches have been played in Missoula.
Overall Montana continues to lead the series 10-6-4 and holds a 5-1-2 advantage at home.
Sacramento State won last year's meeting 2-0 in California and won 1-0 on its most recent trip to Missoula in 2011.
Montana-Portland State history: At 10-9-2, Portland State is the only Big Sky Conference team that has a winning record against Montana.
The teams have a two-part history. Between 1995 and 2002, Montana went 7-1-1 against Portland State. Since then the Grizzlies are 2-9-1 against the Vikings.
The teams played to a 2-2 draw in their last meeting in Missoula in 2011. Last year the Vikings won 2-0 in Portland, and the Grizzlies won 3-2 in the Big Sky tournament semifinals to snap a six-match winless streak against PSU.
Friday Big Sky Conference matches: SAC at UM, PSU at EWU, ISU at NAU, WSU at SUU, UNC at UND
Saturday Big Sky Conference matches: PSU at UM, SAC at EWU, WSU at NAU, ISU at SUU
Upcoming: Montana will play its final Big Sky Conference road games next week when the Grizzlies travel to North Dakota and Northern Colorado. Montana will close its league schedule with home games against Eastern Washington, Northern Arizona and Southern Utah to close out the month.
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