Brenneman Earns All-Big Sky Conference Honors at UM

Kalispell soccer player was voted first team by the league’s coaches

By Beacon Staff
Tess Brennamen. Courtesy University of Montana

Three players from the Montana soccer team were named All-Big Sky Conference, the league office announced Tuesday.

Junior defender Tess Brenneman of Kalispell was voted first team by the league’s coaches. Senior midfielder Mackenzie Akins and junior goalkeeper Kailey Norman were voted second team.

Sophomore defender Ashlee Pedersen earned honorable mention honors.

Regular-season champion Idaho, which went unbeaten (9-0-1) through its 10-match league schedule, claimed five of the 12 first-team spots. Runner-up Northern Colorado had two.

Brenneman, second-team All-Big Sky last season, started all 20 matches this fall at center back, and outside of a 12-minute break on the bench in the second half of Montana’s 1-0 victory over Iowa, she has played every minute this season.

“This is great for Tess. Last year we slid her from outside back into center back. That’s not an easy move and not a position she’d played a lot of,” said coach Mark Plakorus. “We worked with her all last spring, and she’s still learning how to be a center back.

“So to be recognized by the other coaches that she’s one of the best defenders in the conference is a great honor for her and a testament for how hard she works.”

Brenneman graduated from Flathead High School in 2012 after being a three-sport all-state standout for the Bravettes for four years, excelling in soccer, track and basketball.

Montana’s goals-against average of 1.15 in league matches ranks third in the Big Sky Conference, as do the Grizzlies’ three shutouts.

“Tess is very competitive, a very good athlete and a good leader,” Plakorus added. “She controls our back line and does a lot for us, and I think the coaches in the Big Sky saw those things.”

Montana, the No. 5 seed, will open the Big Sky tournament on Thursday at 2 p.m. against No. 4 Weber State at Moscow, Idaho. The Grizzlies fell 1-0 to the Wildcats in Ogden, Utah, in the teams’ regular-season match.

Eastern Washington sophomore Chloe Williams, who had four goals and five assists in 10 Big Sky matches, was voted the Offensive MVP. Northern Colorado senior Adrienne Jordan, who shared the award last year with Montana’s Brooke Moody, was named Defensive MVP.

Idaho freshman Amanda Poertner, who leads the Big Sky in goals-against average (0.75), save percentage (.869) and shutouts (nine), was named Goalkeeper of the Year. Northern Colorado freshman midfielder Mariel Gutierrez was voted Top Newcomer.