OGDEN -- The Wildcats put their best foot forward on Thursday afternoon.
With goals from sophomore forward Mackenzie Harrison and sophomore outside defender Shaylee Petersen, the Weber State women's soccer team opened up its Big Sky Conference season with a 2-0 victory over Montana at Wildcat Soccer Field.
"I thought we came out and set the tone for the conference season," Harrison said. "We dictated the pace of the game."
Weber State, which improved to 1-0-0 in Big Sky play and 5-2-2 overall, outshot Montana 22-12 in claiming its league opener for the second straight year.
"I was happy with how the girls came out and knocked the ball around this afternoon," Weber State coach Tim Crompton said. "We created a number of good chances for ourselves, and recovered well on defense.
"We will put this one behind us now and get ready for Eastern Washington."
Thursday's match nearly got off on the wrong foot for the Wildcats as Montana's Mackenzie Akins broke free into a 1-v-1 with Weber State goalkeeper Ryann Waldman, but the senior netminder made a solid play to get the ball out of danger.
The Wildcats recorded their first shot of the game in the 13th minute and seized control of the match, out shooting the Grizzlies (0-1-0 BSC, 3-4-3 overall) 15-4 in the opening frame.
Weber State put a shot off the post and another off the crossbar before Harrison latched onto the ball during a scramble in front of the goal and punched it into the back of the net.
"We have been working on crashing the goal this past couple of weeks and that's exactly what happened," Harrison said. "We had three or four people following up my first shot and I just luckily hit the one that went in. It was definitely a team effort and a great win to start conference."
The two teams traded shots early in the second half, but the Wildcats iced the win in the 71st minute when Petersen dribbled through traffic and unleashed a 35-yard blast across the box that sailed into the upper 90 of the far post to make it a 2-0 lead.
The Weber State defense allowed just two shots the rest of the way.
Waldman's shutout was her third of the season and the 15th of her career, dropping her goals-against average to 1.05. It was Weber State's fourth shutout of the year.
Weber State will be back in action at noon Saturday against Eastern Washington. The Eagles fell 1-0 to Idaho State in their Big Sky opener on Thursday and are 0-1-0 in league play, 2-8-0 overall.
* WSU BATTLES, BUT LOSES: At Grand Forks, N.D., despite hitting a season-high .375, the Weber State women's volleyball team came up just short in its quest to defeat the Big Sky Conference leaders.
Sophomore outside hitter Rebecca Fuchs had 11 kills and freshman outside hitter Ciera Borho added 10 kills as the Wildcats dropped a 25-22, 25-19, 29-27 decision to North Dakota on Thursday night at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.
Fuchs hit .409 with a pair of service aces and a solo block, while Borho also added a solo block for the Wildcats.
Sophomore setter/outside hitter Samantha Staker had a career-high 38 assists, along five kills -- in six errorless attempts, five digs and a service ace. Freshman middle blocker Megan Bean had five kills on seven errorless attempts and added three total blocks -- including two solo, while junior outside hitter Audrey Biggs had seven kills and sophomore middle blocker Audrey Hunter had six kills and hit .714.
Weber State dropped to 0-3 in Big Sky play with the loss (4-13 overall), while North Dakota improved to 3-0 in league play and 7-7 overall.
The two teams battled in the opening set, with Weber State trailing just 19-18 late, but a 5-1 surge by North Dakota opened up just enough room for the home team to take the set 25-22. UND raced out to an 8-1 lead in the second set and took a 2-0 lead.
Fighting to extend the match, the Wildcats opened a 4-1 lead in the third set and the two teams battled through the entire set. UND held match point at 24-23, but Weber State rallied to have set point at 25-24 on back-to-back kills from Borho and Biggs.
After North Dakota tied it at 25, a kill by Bean put the Wildcats back in front 26-25. UND scored the next two points to regain the lead, before a Hunter kill tied it up at 27-27. North Dakota, however, scored the final two points to take the match.
There were 14 ties and five lead changes in the final set, which saw the Wildcats hit .515 with 20 kills.
Weber State will be back in action on Saturday against Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colo. The Bears are 1-2 in Big Sky play, 5-8 overall.