The Montana lacrosse team finally got the monkey off its back after a four-game skid. The Grizzlies secured two divisional wins against the Central Washington Wildcats and Gonzaga Bulldogs during St. Patrick’s Day weekend.
The Grizzlies improve to 3-4 on the season after a 16-6 win over the Wildcats and a 9-5 win over the Bulldogs. Montana’s now 2-0 in the Pacific Northwest Lacrosse League north division.
“It feels good, it feels like we’re back where we ought to be,” head coach Tucker Sargent said after the win against Central Washington. “We’re just playing with more possessions and better lacrosse overall.”
Montana spent most of the first quarter getting the rust knocked off. One thing Montana's used to is being down. The Grizzlies weren't able to bounce back from early deficits this season before Central Washington.
The Grizzlies had a two goal deficit to start the game, but that quickly changed when Aidan Larson wrapped around the back of the net to find Jimmy Pierce for Montana's first goal. Not long after, Pierce found the back of the net to knot the game up at two.
Central Washington responded with a goal, but Hayden Smith answered back to wrap up the first quarter tied at three apiece. The defense stepped up big in the second quarter and didn't allow a goal from the Wildcats.
“The real thing we’re doing now is just talking more. We’re just yelling at each other 24/7,” defenseman Eric Mott said. “We’re finally just starting to click as a unit instead of playing individually like in the beginning of the season.”
Junior Trent Tubbs scored five goals, his first kicked off the scoring less than a minute into the start of the second quarter. Nolan Davis found a lane for a lone break off the restart to bring it to 5-3. Freshmen Carson Smith and Travis Myers scored to secure a 7-3 lead at halftime.
Central Washington scored the first goal of the second half. Miguel Generoso found Sean Anderson for a goal to end whatever momentum Central Washington gained from the previous goal. Generoso was on the receiving end of Montana's next goal after a pass from Larson. The Wildcats followed up with a goal and Tubbs answered and brought the score to 10-5 with his third goal of the game.
Montana finished the game on a 5-1 run in the fourth quarter. Hayden Smith found the back of the net along with Generoso and Pierce. Central Washington scored somewhere in between. The score was 13-6 when freshman defenseman Zev Revis carried it end to end for his first goal of his collegiate career. Tubbs finished the scoring off with his fourth and fifth goal of the game.
“I had a lot of open looks, their slides were slow and the back door was open a lot,” Tubbs said. “The four losses in a row really shook the whole moral of the team, so getting back on track today was nice and we hope to continue that moving forward.”
Although Montana got the win against Gonzaga, it wasn't as much of an all-around performance like against Central Washington. The game was a chippy, penalty-plagued matchup. Montana stooped to Gonzaga's level for a majority of the game.
The trend continued with an opponent scoring first. Gonzaga found the back of the net early on in the game, but Tubbs found Generoso for a quick transition goal. Tubbs dished another pass out to Pierce, and Carson Smith grabbed an assist off of Generoso's second goal, which brought the score to 3-1 at the end of the first quarter.
Montana surrendered three goals in the first half and didn't allow another until late in the fourth quarter. Anderson scored Montana's only second quarter goal. The Grizzlies went on the attack in the third quarter with two goals from Generoso and one goal from Larson and Myers. Pierce scored the only goal in the fourth quarter for Montana. Gonzaga closed the game out with two goals.
“It’s good to have passers and shooters everywhere on the field. It’s something we really try and work on in practices and games,” Generoso said. “We just try and be prepared for every game.”
Goalkeeper Drew Moesel recorded 17 saves against the Bulldogs and 15 saves against the Wildcats. He averaged a 74 percent save percentage between the two games.
Penalties plagued Montana in both games, fortunately Central Washington and Gonzaga couldn’t execute on most of the man-up opportunities. The Grizzlies had nine penalties against the Wildcats and 11 penalties against Gonzaga, nine of which were in the second half.
“That’s something we’ll need to continue to work on, it’s unnecessary stuff,” Sargent said. “Most of the penalties came when we were on defense. We just have to play with our feet and not our stick.”
Montana will travel to San Diego, Calif., on March 22 for a three-game slate against Cal State-San Marcos (March 24), UC Davis (March 26) and University of San Diego (March 27).
Lucas Ailport—Media Relations