Sal Principe (right) with his former coach, Blake Wharlich

Griz Fall Shootout Report

0 - Published October 16, 2013 by in College



Montana (10) over Gonzaga (6)

Montana State (6) over Great Falls (5)

Idaho (8) over Top Mellon (3)

Gonzaga (6) over Montana State (4)

Montana (10) over Top Mellon (6)

Idaho (9) over Great Falls (4)


Gonzaga (9) over Great Falls (6)

Montana (4) over Montana State (3)

Montana (8) over Idaho (7)

Great Falls (8) over Top Mellon (5)

Gonzaga (8) over Idaho (3)

Top Mellon (10) over Montana State (9)

SEMIS: Montana over Gonzaga, Idaho over Montana State

FINALS: Montana (6) over Idaho (3)


The University of Montana Grizzlies are your 2013 Griz Fall Shootout Champions, following an undefeated run through the tournament and a 6-3 victory over the Idaho Vandals in the Championship game. The Grizzlies rode a balanced offensive attack and solid play at the face-off X to victory.

All of the college teams in the tournament this weekend looked good at times, and really sloppy at times too. Of course this is to be expected in the fall, but there was a lot of 1-on-1 action on the offensive side and teams seemed to have trouble playing in a system. There were a lot of goalies that saw time and I saw several stand out long poles, but each team also had at least one pole on the field that was a liability and I so I didn’t notice much depth for anyone defensively – although there were a number of good short stick defenders out there. Two of the teams had new coaches (Idaho and Gonzaga) and one was a team that has only played in one scrimmage ever (Great Falls), so I assume this had a lot to do with these observations.

I was mostly focused on the teams from Montana, and more specifically on my former players suiting up for their respective college programs. It was great to see Tanner Pace (Big Sky/Montana), Jack Lundin (Hellgate/Montana State), Al Plant (10sticks/Great Falls), Jed Diehl (Hellgate/Montana State), Tristan Jacobson (Hellgate/Great Falls), and Sal Principe (Billings/Great Falls) out there – they are all good kids who are setting a great example for young players here in Montana. My team, Top Mellon, had six guys who currently coach for high school and youth programs here and we spent a lot of time talking about the rising talent state wide, but these players are really the first of their kind. I saw Tanner, Jack, and Al score goals and Sal and Jed both looked very comfortable defensively, so these guys seem to be really contributing to their teams too.

Sal Principe (right) with his former coach, Blake Wharlich

Sal Principe (right) with his former coach, Blake Wharlich



Al Plant (10sticks) and Sal Principe (Billings) on defense for UGF

Big Sky Coach, Keith Kreiner, faces off for Top Mellon

Big Sky Coach, Keith Kreiner, faces off for Top Mellon

Some other observations…

– Montana State’s practice jerseys totally unprofessional, and chanting “da da da” after every goal also makes MSU look like a joke. The Cats have talented players all over the place, but I just don’t get ‘what they are about’… It’s a make-or-break year for them, now that Westminster has moved to MCLA-1 and they have a real shot at winning their conference, but they frankly need to work harder and take it more seriously if they want to step it up for real. There seemed to be a lot of freshman out there, so that could be a good sign.

– Great Falls has the highs and lows – they had the best individual talent and also the worst depth. I expect they will be competitive somewhat this year, but they will really be in a good place for years to come with a few more recruiting classes. I try to follow this program closely because it’s a great story line and I think they are a game changer for lacrosse in Montana, but they might also be a really good team in a few years.

– It’s really early, but this looks to me like the best Griz team since 2008. The trick for the Griz will be to keep up some kind of work ethic over the off-season so they can carry some momentum into the start of the year, otherwise the fall results don’t really mean anything. Nobody really stood out, which at first I thought was not a good sign, but over the weekend I started to see that as a potential positive.

– Spring scheduling is going to be crucial for all of these teams, as usual. None of these teams should really be focused on a Top 25 portfolio, but they are all capable of rattling off some wins if they can build up as the year goes on and hopefully be peaking when playoffs roll around. Montana State has a shot at a good national ranking if they can win early and often.

– This tournament was low key in nature, but lacked in professionalism. Schedule changes (including one the morning of the tournament), no cones on one field, no score table at one field, no concessions, and the Friday/Saturday format wasn’t great. None of this made a big deal to me or the men’s team, and I didn’t hear anyone complaining, but these seem like easy fixes and it would leave everyone with a better impression of the Griz program.

On the personal side, it was fun to strap the pads on and sweat a little this weekend because I don’t get to play often. The Top Mellon crew was a pretty random assortment of players, but we all love the game and just playing was what it was about – so mission accomplished.

Thanks to Sal Principe Sr. for the great photos!