The Montana soccer team will open play at the Big Sky Conference Championship on Thursday in Ogden, Utah, with a semifinal matchup against familiar nemesis Northern Colorado.
The Grizzlies (8-1-0), the No. 1 seed out of the Northwest Division, and Northern Colorado (3-2-2), the No. 2 seed out of the Southeast Division, will play at 3 p.m.
The semifinal round will open with Northern Arizona (6-2-1) taking on Idaho (5-5-0) at noon on Thursday.
The semifinal winners will play in the championship match at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.
The winner of the title match will advance to the 48-team NCAA tournament, which will be played entirely in North Carolina beginning later this month.
The second semifinal on Thursday pits the winners of the last two tournaments against one another. Montana won the title in 2018 in Ogden with a 1-0 victory over Northern Colorado in the championship match.
The Bears knocked the top-seeded Grizzlies out of the 2019 tournament in Greeley, Colo., in the semifinals, 2-1 in overtime on their way to the title.
Playing in opposite divisions this spring, the two teams have not met this season.
The Grizzlies saw their 19-match regular-season unbeaten streak against Big Sky opponents come to an end on Friday with a 3-2 overtime home loss to Eastern Washington. The Grizzlies bounced back in impressive fashion on Sunday afternoon on senior day, scoring twice in the opening seven minutes and going on to win 3-1.
Mimi Eiden and Rita Lang both scored early in the first half. Alexa Coyle added an insurance goal on a penalty kick in the 65th minute after the Eagles had pulled to within 2-1 18 minutes into the second half.
The Bears have played just seven matches this spring. They opened the season with a non-conference 3-0 loss at Colorado back on Feb. 13. It would be more than a month before they would play again after a winter storm in Colorado forced the cancellation of UNC’s two-game home series against Southern Utah.
Northern Colorado swept two matches at Idaho State to open league, then got a draw and a win at home against Northern Arizona two weeks ago, the Lumberjacks’ only Big Sky loss.
—UM sports information