The first thing that needs to be done is congratulate our fabulous University of Montana soccer team, the 2021 Big Sky Conference Tournament champs!

The Griz accomplished that yesterday (Sunday) with a win over Weber State, and thereby earned the automatic bid to the NCAA national tournament. Let's face it. Like any NCAA tournament event, a school like Montana isn't going to be highly regarded and will likely get pitted against a nationally ranked opponent.

That's exactly what was announced this afternoon, as the NCAA revealed that the Grizzlies will be heading to Pullman to face Washington State in the opening round of the national tournament. Montana and Washington State will play at 6 p.m. (MT) this Saturday at WSU’s Lower Soccer Field.

UM Women's Sports Information director Joel Carlson tells us that it will be another tall task for the Grizzlies in the postseason. This time they’ll face a Washington State team that went 13-2-4 during the regular season, with one-goal losses to Seattle and Stanford.

The Cougars finished third in the extremely talented Pac-12 Conference at 7-1-3, finishing behind UCLA and USC. They were ranked No. 18 in last week’s national poll and have a solid RPI of 28..

Montana has an RPI of 137. The Grizzlies went 13-5-1, their most wins since 2000, and have lost just once since September 5. The Grizzlies are making their sixth trip to the NCAA tournament, their third in the last four years. This year’s senior class is the first in program history to make three NCAA tournaments.

The 2018 Montana team that made a run to the Big Sky championship also had to travel to Washington State and was overwhelmed by the Cougars in the opening-round game, 5-1. Here's hoping for better results in 2021.

Congrats and good luck, Griz!

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