Rocky Mountain College was looking to win in its long-awaited home debut. Westminster College was just hoping to end its winless streak in Billings.
Neither the Battlin’ Bears nor Griffins got exactly what they were looking for on Sunday in a Frontier Conference women’s soccer match played at Rocky’s Wendy’s Field.
Rocky, playing at home after spending the season’s first six weekends on the road, and Westminster, winless in its previous six trips to Billings, fought through two overtimes before settling for a 1-1 tie on the sunny, breezy afternoon.
“I’m fairly happy with the result,” Rocky coach Richard Duffy said. “It was two good teams, I think, just battling.”
The Bears, 6-3-2 on the season, generated some excitement early by benefiting from an own goal in the opening 33 seconds. The Griffins, 6-6-1, got the equalizer with a well-struck ball off the foot of Miranda Miner in the 61st minute.
“Being at home was nice and everyone was pumped up,” said Rocky’s Mandi Achten, a sophomore forward from Billings. “We knew we had to come out hard. We knew they were a good team.”
Rocky, which was 14-0 at Wendy’s Field over the previous two seasons, kept that unbeaten streak intact against the Griffins, who were the aggressors offensively for most of the second half of Sunday’s match.
“They came out with a lot of intensity (after intermission) and kind of put us on our heels,” Duffy said.
The Bears also had the wind in their faces throughout the second half and first overtime.
“I know we played really hard in our first half and had many opportunities that we just couldn’t finish,” Achten said. “I’m just happy that we battled through it.”
It was a cross by Achten, intended for a sliding Evelina Aberg in front of the net, that went off a Westminster defender for an own goal in the opening minute.
After that, goalies Malin Johansson of Rocky and Abi Yanke of Westminster came up with several nice saves on the afternoon.
In the first 10-minute overtime, Yanke just got her fingertips on a high shot by Rocky’s Jaelene Zygmond to prevent a winning goal.
For the Bears defensively, “I thought Rachel Hein and Ambri Stein played fantastic for us again,” Duffy said. “They do a very good job.”
Hein and Stein, along with Achten, are part of a group of six Billings players who started for Rocky on Sunday. The other starters included Alex Harvey, Chez Keehn and Josie Kautsky.
“We have a lot of Billings girls (including Zygmond and Janell Cabrera) on this team, which is nice because we have played together and against each other,” Achten said. “We know how each other plays, and it also brings in a nice crowd. We have our parents over there tailgating before games.”
Duffy said trying to secure more home matches is the “toughest” part of his job.
“So we’re always trying to schedule games where we can get them,” he said. “It turned out this year we spent six weekends on the road all over the country.”
Rocky’s women have traveled from Las Vegas to Jamestown, N.D., to Seattle, with stops in Spokane, Salt Lake City and Bismarck, N.D., along the way.
“I can almost guarantee there’s not a team in the country that has put on more miles than us,” Duffy said.
Rocky will stay at home next week to play the University of Jamestown at noon on Saturday.