In 13 tries, the BYU men’s soccer team had walked away from the field with either a loss or a tie against the Orange County Blue Star. That winless streak came to a screeching halt Friday night.
The Cougars (2-3-2) rode a high-powered offensive attack and a swarming defense en route to their streak-ending 4-2 win that came close to matching their overall season output in goals.
“It’s huge, we need this win for our confidence first of all,” BYU head coach Chris Watkins said. “(Orange County is) third or fourth place right now by just a couple of points. So we need this win to start climbing the standings.”
The Cougars started their attack early and often, as sophomore midfielder Colby Bauer scored the first goal of the game off a corner kick at the 12:53 mark. Not even a minute later, sophomore forward David Gates scored on a breakaway one-on-one matchup with Blue Star goalkeeper Nick Shackelford at the 13:34 mark to make it 2-0.
“We needed to score and put away goals for our confidence, knowing that they’re a good team,” Watkins said.
The Cougars added to the half in the 40th minute, when sophomore midfielder Jace Green scored on a penalty kick, which was awarded to him because of Orange County’s defender Marco Franco grabbing Green on a breakaway run.
The Cougars went up 4-0 off a goal scored by Dallin Cutler in the 67th minute, but it was the defense that was the story of the first 80 minutes of the game. Every time the Blue Stars threatened, the Cougars found a way to change possession, even without the presence of BYU’s starting center back Will Burton, who was out for the game.
“Jordan Layton, off his mission, stepped up and did awesome,” Watkins said. “He and Sterling (Hancock) did really well. Dougie (Clark) and Jon (Junca) always get it done. To be able to have Jordan step in there, it was like nothing was missing. We’d obviously like to have Will in there, but now we know we have some depth we didn’t know we had.”
The defense had a minor lapse in the last 10 minutes of play, as Beni Estes and Christian Gonzalez were both able to score late goals for the Blue Stars (3-3-5), but at that point, the Cougars had already notched a win.
In the last 13 games against Orange County, the Cougars have had a record of 0-9-4. With the resounding win, BYU has shown they are developing to be true contenders for a title.
The Cougars have a quick turnaround as they play again Saturday night against So. California, who beat them 2-1 earlier this month. The game will start at 8:00 at the South Fields.