Y soccer still alive after 2-0 win in LA

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    By ELIZABETH PALMER

    With strong defense and some lucky bounces, BYU’s women’s soccer team advanced to the third round of NCAA tournament play Saturday, defeating UCLA 2-0 in Los Angeles.

    The victory sends the Cougars — one of only 16 teams still playing in the tournament — on to face Santa Clara, the team that knocked the Cougars out of the competition last year. BYU lost to Santa Clara 1-0 in the first round of last season’s tournament.

    The Cougars earned the trip to the third round without one of their strongest offensive efforts Saturday, getting outshot by the Bruins 17-13.

    “We struggled (Saturday),” BYU head coach Jennifer Rockwood said. “UCLA was unable to finish strong chances, and they had good looks. We just fought it out. Soccer is a weird game. It just comes down to putting it into the net.”

    BYU freshman midfielder Sarah Higham opened the scoring for the Cougars midway through the first half. Higham’s long shot bounced off the crossbar and went into the net for a 1-0 BYU lead.

    “We were feeling very fortunate,” Rockwood said. “We’ve been on the other side of that before, but the ball bounced our way today.”

    BYU freshman goalie Jennifer Waldren said Higham’s goal made her job easier.

    “From the first few minutes until we scored, I was scared,” she said. “Our defense was letting them get open shots. Once we scored, though, the pressure was off, and our defense picked it up.”

    UCLA defender Karissa Hampton said BYU’s defense was all over the Bruins.

    “Every time someone took a shot they cleared it out,” she said. “So many times, we had a shot come this close to the goal line … we didn’t finish our goals or our opportunities.”

    BYU senior forward Shauna Rohbock gave her team some breathing space when she scored her team-leading 24th goal off an assist from Higham for a 2-0 lead.

    “I was hoping that with my speed I could put the ball around her,” Rohbock said. “With her angle she came out flat, and when she went down I had an open shot.”

    Rockwood said the Cougars were fortunate to come out of Saturday’s match with a victory.

    “UCLA is an outstanding team,” she said. “The coaching staff was very concerned because we didn’t go out to a strong start … we came in tight and struggled to get control. The possession play was not there. UCLA was all over us. We struggled but fought through it.”

    Rohbock said for the Cougars, it was just a matter of finding their confidence.

    “We were timid and scared to get beat (early in the game),” she said. “After the second goal, we knew we could play with UCLA. We didn’t use our confidence before our second goal.”

    UCLA head coach Todd Saldaa said BYU’s experience was key in the game against his team, which lost seven players at the end of last season.

    “Coming into the game, I felt confident that we’d play good soccer. My concern was for the type of team they are,” he said. “They are experienced and fight hard against their opponents. They are very effective … experience wise, we just weren’t comfortable in facing these kinds of teams. They treated the game differently and were taking their goals any way they could get them. We were hitting long balls and trying to get it into the box.”

    BYU will be playing for a spot in the quarterfinals when it takes on No. 3 seed Santa Clara this weekend in California.

    Santa Clara, the 2nd-ranked team in the nation, defeated the Pacific Tigers 5-0 Saturday to advance to the tournament’s third round. The shutout was the 14th consecutive one for Santa Clara, an NCAA record.

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