The temperature was dropping, the wind was whipping, the snow was falling and the turf could have been mistaken for an ice rink. The Montana men's lacrosse team clashed against the Idaho Vandals on March 1.
The snow was a light calm before the storm as 25-mile-per-hour wind gusts whistled through Washington-Grizzly Stadium in the later half of the game, blowing snow in every direction. Unfortunately Montana dropped its home opener 10-7.
“That game should have never been played. That’s on me,” head coach Tucker Sargent said when he addressed the team. “Those conditions make it a toss up and we ended up on the short end of it.”
Montana was down 5-1 after the first quarter and a lone goal from Trent Tubbs off a rebound from Sean Anderson. The Grizzlies stepped out of hibernation in the second quarter and scored four unanswered goals to knot it up at five apiece by halftime.
Jimmy Pierce started the run with a swim move over the defender on the doorstep for a goal. Right after that, Luke Johnson won the faceoff and took it down the field for a quick unassisted goal that brought Montana within two.
Goalkeeper Drew Moesel played a ball outside of his crease and his pass was intercepted and the Vandals had an open shot at an empty net. However, Parker Swank quickly adapted and dove in front of the net to deflect the shot off his stick.
“I saw that Drew was out of the cage going for the ball, then out of nowhere I saw one of the Idaho guys getting ready to rip a shot,” Parker Swank said. “So I just threw my body into the shot hoping that I’d stop it.”
Later in the second quarter Miguel Generoso found Aidan Larson on the back door of the Vandals net for a man-up goal. A few minutes go by and Moesel is all alone with a Vandal attacker, but stonewalled the shot as it approached the net. Moments later and the Grizzlies went on the attack. Generoso once again dished out another assist, this time to Pierce to tie the game.
The Grizzlies secured its first lead of the game when Larson picked up a loose ball in the attacking zone and threw a shot in the net to bring it to 6-5 early in the third quarter. Unfortunately that would be as close as Montana would get, as Idaho would finish the game on a 5-1 run. Hayden Smith scored the only goal in the fourth quarter for the Grizzlies.
Moesel finished the night with 14 saves, which puts him over 700 saves now during his time as a Grizzly. Zev Revis, Eric Mott and Nolan Davis each picked up four ground balls. There was a lot of effort from the defense in terms of trying to help generate offense. Several times you’d find any one of them carrying the ball from end to end. Trevor Wikstrom and Luke Johnson dominated the face-offs for Montana. The two won a combined 16 out of 20 draws.
The Grizzlies originally had a matchup in Missoula against College of Idaho on March 3. However, both coaches agreed to have the game moved to Caldwell, Idaho on March 10 due to weather and travel concerns. The game will serve as a rematch of last year’s conference championship game. College of Idaho defeated Montana 11-10 in overtime.
“This coming week we’ll come to practice willing to work and prepare, no matter if we’re in a gym, outside or in a cardboard box,” assistant coach Al Williams said. “We’re a team and we have to get better as a unit and be able to trust one another.”
Lucas Ailport— Media Relations