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Missoulian editorial: Congratulations to the Lady Griz soccer team

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Griz vs. Weber State Big Sky Conference championship soccer 01

The Montana soccer team holds its first-place trophy after defeating Weber State 1-0 in the Big Sky Conference tourney championship in Greeley, Colorado. 

Championship huckleberries to the University of Montana women’s soccer team, for winning the Big Sky tournament title earlier this month in Greeley, Colorado.

The tournament title was Montana’s second in seven months, this one giving the Griz their 13th win of the season, the most in school history since the 2000 team won 16. They were also the champions in the spring season, which was delayed from the fall of 2020 because of the pandemic.

In the spring, the Griz won the title and got a trip to the NCAA tournament because Northern Arizona pulled out of the championship game due to COVID. This time, the Griz felt like they earned it.

The championship was Montana’s fifth in coach Chris Citowicki’s four seasons. They won the Big Sky tournament titles in 2018, spring 2021 and fall 2021, and won regular-season titles in 2019 and spring 2021, when the Big Sky was divided into two divisions.

They did it with a young team this time, having lost several standout players to graduation.

Junior Jaden Griggs scored the lone goal, assisted by senior Zoe Transtrum in the 36th minute. Freshman Camellia Xu, the Big Sky goalkeeper of the year, staved off Weber State’s constant attack in the second half, saving all six shots on goal to card her 11th shutout of the season, a single-season program record.

“At the start of the year, we talked about whether or not this team was mature enough to get it done, mature in terms of leadership, and yet, this probably has been one of the most professional squads I’ve ever coached, even though it’s very young,” Citowicki said. “So, it was tough having a younger team on a back-to-back season, but yet, somehow it worked out.”

Unfortunately, the team’s season ended with a 3-0 loss to Washington State in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Montana has a 1-6 record in that tourney, with the lone win a 1-0 victory at WSU in 2000.

Things are looking good going forward, though. The program recently racked up some recruiting wins, signing six highly regarded prospects. There could potentially be six Montanans on next fall’s team.

“I’m ecstatic about this class,” Citowicki said. “It’s the one I’ve recruited the longest in my time here. We’ve had eyes on them forever and the relationships are deep.

“On top of that, we’re keeping the best of the best in Montana. What more could you ask for?”

Creative huckleberries to Missoula County officials for entertaining a proposal to tear up the Larchmont Golf Course and build up to 2,000 housing units, as well as stores and restaurants, on the county-owned land.

The idea will no doubt generate vociferous opposition from golfers and other local special interest groups.

However, we believe the proposal has merit and is worthy of further examination. It’s a thoughtful approach to the biggest problem our community faces — the severe lack of affordable housing.

“As you know, Larchmont is a treasured public amenity with enormous use,” Emily Brock, Missoula County's director of land and economic development, said to the commissioners on Monday.

"The county is going to take a measured, thoughtful approach to any idea for developing it because once it's gone, it's gone forever,” she added. “However, this is a bold proposal that could add significant housing supply to our market."

The community must ask itself a fundamental question: Is a golf course the highest, best use for 152 acres of prime county land off Reserve Street? Especially if, as the proposal says, a new golf course would be built south of the current course off Highway 93 as part of a land swap?

The golf course and the Caddy Shack restaurant contribute about $112,000 in annual revenue to the county, Dan Adcock, who is on Larchmont’s advisory board, told the Missoulian this week.

In contrast, potential annual tax revenue from the development is estimated at nearly $1.3 million to the county and nearly $2 million for the city.

We agree with Rep. Danny Tenenbaum, D-Missoula, that it’s a question of priorities.

"On one hand, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to end our housing shortage, an opportunity that includes a major addition of permanently affordable homes for low-income families under the community land trust model," Tenenbaum said. "Or we can keep the parcel as a money-losing golf course, subsidized by all of us but only enjoyed by a few."

Appreciative huckleberries to the anonymous donor who contributed $300,000 to the University of Montana, and to President Seth Bodnar for using the money to endow the Kyiyo Native American Student Association in the name of the late Blackfeet Chief Earl Old Person.

Bodnar noted in a ceremony Monday that the campus is on the traditional lands of the Salish and Kalispel people. The Blackfeet also have a strong connection with the university, as did Chief Old Person.

The funds from the endowment will go to support the Kyiyo association and its operations in perpetuity, and will be bolstered by additional fundraising.

“I really hope that this does so much for our Kyiyo leaders because I see them every week and all the hours that they put into doing something here,” said Gisele Forest, a former Kyiyo president during her student days. “We just know the struggles that they go through and all that they put into it, they do it so willingly.”

This editorial represents the views of the Missoulian’s editorial board — Publisher Jim Strauss and Executive Editor Jim Van Nostrand.

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