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The Weber State University women’s soccer team opened up Big Sky play on Thursday afternoon with a win against the University of Montana. The Wildcats pitched a shutout, winning 2-0.
“I thought the girls prepared pretty well all week coming into the game,” said WSU head coach Tim Crompton. “They put themselves in a good place before conference started. As the conference season starts, it’s like a new life for every team — all over the country, really.”
The Grizzlies controlled the ball early, getting a quick shot on goal. UM sophomore Mackenzie Akins got out in front of the defense and had nothing but grass between her and the ball. She took a shot that was knocked down by WSU goalkeeper Ryann Waldman.
The Wildcats had the ball in their own offensive zone for the majority of the first half, with exception to the first few minutes of the game. The Wildcats had windows close tight as they tried to attack, but had one shot on goal early on.
Junior Mackenzie Day had a pass slip past the defenders, but she was unable to find the net. Her shot went off of the left post of the goal.
The Wildcats got on the board first in the 42nd minute. Sophomore Mackenzie Harrison received a pass, beat the defense and had her shot hit off of the crossbar. The ball ricocheted off of the bar and then off a Grizzlies defender, and Harrison got a second chance that found the back of the net.
“We’ve been working on this all week,” Harrison said. “We’ve all been crashing it in the box and having a lot of numbers to follow through. When the first time didn’t go in, we had another shot and another shot. It was good that we all stuck with it. I just luckily got the shot that went in.”
UM had a chance at a goal in the final minutes of the first half. The Grizzlies had three corner kicks in a row but were unable to convert. The Wildcats finished the half with five shots on goal, compared to two for UM.
WSU continued to control the ball in the second half.
“We certainly had a lot of the ball,” Crompton said. “The idea is to capitalize on that amount of time you have the ball. We could have scored a couple more goals, maybe, but they could have scored as well. We were fortunate on a few of them. Soccer is a funny sport that way. You need to create a lot of opportunities to get one.”
WSU had yet another shot go off of the post early in the second half, bringing its total to three on the day.
“I don’t think I’ve seen that many in the same game,” Crompton said. “Not in a long time. Not that I can recall.”
In the 71st minute, the Wildcats fortified their lead with another goal. Sophomore Shaylee Petersen received a pass and rocketed a shot from 35 feet out that flew into the back of the net. That brought the score to 2-0 in favor of the Wildcats.
The Grizzlies had a few more opportunities in the final minutes of the game, but the Wildcat defense held strong, preserving the shutout.
“We knew that Montana was a good team,” Crompton said. “They went to the finals last year, and they went into the NCAA Tournament two years ago. We were excited for them to come and play. Our girls have played pretty well all season. They played well today.”
The Wildcats improved to 5-2-2 on the season. The shutout was the 17th career shutout for Waldman. She is just four shy of tying the all-time record for most games without letting in a goal.
The Wildcats will next face Eastern Washington University. The game will be this Saturday at 12 p.m. on the Wildcat Soccer Field.