Tyler Stoeger delivered two big goals for the Montana soccer team and the Grizzlies advanced to the Big Sky Conference tourney finals with a 2-1 overtime win over Northern Colorado Thursday in Ogden, Utah.

Montana (9-1-0) will play Northern Arizona (7-2-1) in the championship match Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in Ogden. The winner will earn an automatic berth into the NCAA tourney, which will be held in North Carolina.

Stoeger, a senior forward from Wyoming, gave Montana a 1-0 lead with a boot from 30 yards away with 31:35 left in the second half. Northern Colorado answered with just under 13 minutes left in regulation when a Bears shot was deflected near the goal and snuck past Grizzly standout keeper Claire Howard.

That set the stage for Stoeger's heroics at 4:10 in overtime. Senior defender Taylor Hansen booted a long shot to the mouth of the goal and Stoeger made a deft touch with the UNC keeper bearing down, producing the game-winning goal. 

In the first semifinal Thursday, Northern Arizona beat Idaho, 1-0. After a handball by the Vandals in the Idaho box, NAU was issued a penalty kick. In the 15th minute, Big Sky Co-Offensive MVP and Golden Boot recipient, Madison Montgomery, scored the first and only goal.

It marks the first time the Lumberjacks have earned a Big Sky finals bid since 2016.

Montana did not play Northern Arizona during the regular season. The Jacks won the newly-formed Southeast Division.

"The championship will be a little different, but the goal remains the same, to win the game," NAU coach Kylie Louw said.

Bill Speltz is Missoulian Sports Editor and has served as Sunday columnist the past 15 years. Do you have a story idea? Email Bill at bill.speltz@missoulian.com.

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