MISSOULA — Sophomore defender McKenzie Kilpatrick spent most of Friday afternoon helping Montana keep Cal Poly off the scoreboard in the teams’ match-up at South Campus Stadium.
Then, in the 80th minute, she had a chance break a scoreless deadlock.
Her shot from the top of the box rippled the netting inside the right post and gave the Grizzlies a 1-0 victory in what became their home opener after last Friday’s match against UC Santa Barbara became a no-result due to weather.
It was Kilpatrick’s first career goal, and it gave Montana (1-3-2) its first win of the season.
“It feels good, especially against this team. If you look at their track record, every other game was 1-0, so everything has been very close,” UM coach Chris Citowicki said.
“The message at halftime was, you have to keep going. Sooner or later something is going to slip through.”
Both teams had scoring chances in the first half, none better than Alexa Coyle’s shot from distance that Cal Poly goalkeeper Sophia Brown got enough of finger on to redirect off the crossbar.
As the teams were creating eight second-half corner kicks, the feeling at South Campus Stadium wasn’t if a goal was coming but when. And by which team.
Montana’s moment came in the 80th minute. Just seconds after she reentered the match, Sydney Haustein put the game-winning play in motion when she sent a shot into the box that was blocked by heavy traffic.
The ball knocked around until it came out to Kilpatrick, who could be found pressing forward from her outside back position every chance she got on Friday.
“Chris kept telling me to push up, push up, get on the 18, and when it comes back, put it in,” she said. “That’s how it is when we’re going toward the goal. Anything that comes out, you put it back in.”
But this was no moment filled with haste, a defender out of her element. Kilpatrick collected the ball, got it going toward goal with a touch or two and — ignoring calls from teammates who thought they had the perfect shot — knocked in the game-winner.
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