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Montana soccer coach Mark Plakorus is shown during the Grizzlies' game against Washington State on Sept. 17. Plakorus stepped down from his position on Tuesday.

Mark Plakorus unexpectedly resigned as head coach of the University of Montana women's soccer team Tuesday.

Plakorus has been coach of the Grizzlies since 2011 and guided them in an indoor workout as recently as Monday evening.

"It really did come down to both he and I deciding it's a good time for him and it's a good time to make a change," Montana athletic director Kent Haslam told "I certainly appreciate everything he's done and wish him nothing but the best.

"We'll move as fast as we can to hire another coach."

Haslam declined to elaborate on the specifics of the surprise move. Plakorus led the Grizzlies to a respectable 10-7-4 record and a Big Sky Conference tournament berth this past November. 

"It was mutually agreed it was time for him to move on," Haslam offered.

Plakorus' teams went 65-56-24 during his seven seasons, advancing to the Big Sky tourney on six occasions. The Grizzlies won three Big Sky titles under Plakorus' leadership, including an unbeaten stretch through league play in 2014. In both 2016 and 2017, Montana earned regional rankings by the United Soccer Coaches.

During his first season, he secured Montana's first NCAA tournament berth in 11 seasons after turning around a program that went just 3-12-3 the previous season.

"I love this place, which makes this incredibly hard, but sometimes you have to sacrifice what you love in order to do what you're destined to be," Plakorus said in a press release. "It's time to step down to open up new opportunities that will allow me to grow as both a coach and person."

Since 2011, Montana has garnered 26 first- or second-team All-Big Sky Conference accolades, in addition to six MVP awards. Plakorus was named the league's coach of the year in 2014.

Off the field, Montana has been one of the best in the country, qualifying for the United Soccer Coaches Team Academic Award every year under Plakorus, in addition to 121 Academic All-Big Sky Conference selections – the most in the league during that span. The team's GPA rose from 3.23 during his first season to 3.53 in 2016-17.

"These young ladies have excelled in everything they do, and that's a credit to the people they are," the former coach said. "I'm proud of what we've accomplished and what they'll continue to do at the University of Montana and in all aspects of life."

Assistant coach Katie Benz will oversee the soccer program during the spring. A national search for a new head coach will begin as soon as possible.

Efforts to reach Plakorus and his players for a comment Tuesday for unsuccessful.

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Bill Speltz is the Deputy Sports Editor of the Missoulian. Email him at

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