BYU Soccer ties Real Salt Lake

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In the most competitive match of the season, the BYU men’s soccer team earned a draw with Real Salt Lake 1-1 at South Field on Saturday night, thanks to great defense and a last-minute goal.

“Our defense was awesome tonight,” Goalkeeper Brian Hale said. “Will, Sterling and the rest of the backline held up against some of the best players in the nation.”

Hale did well himself as RSL only converted one goal on over 20 shot attempts. The defensive effort was noted by Head Coach Chris Watkins as a key piece of Saturday’s draw.

“We came out and started the game on fire,” Watkins said. “They handled the pressure really well. We’ve never had to defend against that much before. I’m proud of our guys.”

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BYU forward David Gates scored late to tie the Cougars with RSL on Saturday
The game looked like it was going to be a shut-out through the first 45 minutes. Neither team took very many shots and play was contained mostly to the middle of the field. With less than one minute left in the half though, Will Johnson, one of RSL’s starting midfielders, one-touched a ball into the goal off an assist by teammate Fabian Espindola.

The second half found RSL maintaining the majority of possession time on the Cougars’ half of the field. Relentless defense from the BYU defenders and a little help from the crossbar kept the Salt Lake club from finding the net again.

“We did great defensively,” said BYU defender Sterling Hancock who stopped a dozen RSL drives. “We were blocking shots, winning one-on-ones and really competing. I was happy to help out where I could.”

RSL’s Leone Cruz received a yellow card when he illegally slide tackled BYU forward David Gates in the 85th minute. Just four minutes later, BYU midfielder Dallin Cutler headed a ball to Gates who scored the equalizer which caused the crowd of nearly 4,000 to erupt in cheers.

“We stepped up and proved we could compete,” Gates said. “It was a great game in which we played really well. We got lucky a few times, but really showed people what kind of team we are.”

In the two minutes of injury stoppage time tacked onto the regulation time, BYU rode the energy from the crowd and from Gates’ goal. The Cougars stopped two RSL drives and then Garrett Losee stole the ball from the RSL defenders. He had a one-on-one with the keeper and the chance to win the game for the Cougars with less than 30 seconds left but put the ball wide right and the game ended in a stalemate.

The match nearly avenged BYU of it’s 3-1 loss to Real in 2009. The game also marked the end of the preseason for BYU. The Cougars kick off the beginning of the regular season May 24 when they host the Los Angeles Misioneros at South Field.

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