BYU Soccer gives So. California a baptism by fire in blowout

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In a rematch of a game between two religiously affiliated programs, the name of the game was conversion.

The BYU men’s soccer team converted on several penalty kicks and a corner kick to thrash the So. California Seahorses, a member of the christian group Missionary Athletes International, 5-1 Saturday night to avenge an earlier loss this month and to keep their high-powered offensive attack in full swing.

“The win was unbelievably important for us,” freshman midfielder Dallin Cutler said. “We wanted to get revenge. They’re a good team, but we came out strong.”

The first half flew by as neither team could penetrate the opposing defense more than a few times, and it went into halftime knotted with goose eggs on the scoreboard.

“When we went in for the second half to talk, we talked about how we needed to bury every single chance we get, and send a message to the league,” Cutler said. “I think we came out with a different intensity and more aggressiveness.”

Then the BYU barrage began. Sophomore centerback Will Burton, fresh off his return from injury, began the scoring in the 56th minute off a corner kick from Cutler, who had two assists. Just two minutes later, senior defender Douglas Clark scored on a free kick from outside the box, followed closely by junior midfielder Toni Niccoli’s header, not even a minute later, which was also assisted by Cutler.

The barrage ended when junior forward Garrett Losee scored off another penalty kick from sophomore forward Jace Green in the 61st minute. The last goal gave the Cougars a total of four goals in five minutes.

The defense remained stalwart for the first 89 minutes of the game, but allowed one goal from So. Cal forward Ryan Shaw in the 90th minute, erasing the Cougars’ hopes of a shutout, just as Orange County did on Friday night.

“I think we get a little lax when we go four or five up,” Cutler said. “I know a couple of our guys are a little tired playing 90 minutes, but we just need to keep that focus for the entire game.”

BYU added its last goal during stoppage time when junior midfielder Jantzen Romney converted on a last minute shot, to achieve the final score.

The five goals Saturday, added to the four goals Friday, easily passed up their season total of six goals before Friday, showing the development of BYU soccer.

The Cougar win avenges a loss earlier in June in California, and helps the team climb the Southwest Division of the Premiere Development League, where they are currently ranked seventh.

“This win is huge for us,” BYU head coach Chris Watkins said. “We lost to them when we felt we were the better team, so we were happy that we were able to come out and get this one.”

The Cougars play next on Friday, June 22 at the South Field against Ventura County.

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