The No. 24 BYU women’s soccer team has another challenging slate of games this weekend against both Texas and No. 6 Penn State.
Coming off strong victories against No. 11 Long Beach State and Colorado College, both of which boosted BYU into the nation’s top 25, head coach Jennifer Rockwood said the Cougars seem primed for another great showing at home.
“These are two very tough teams coming to Provo,” Rockwood said. “Both are very talented and established programs. It’s going to take a great effort from our girls, but we can do it. We played our most complete game of the year against a very good Colorado College team and we’re looking to build off that.”
The Cougars, now 4-1 on the season, begins the weekend on Thursday at 7 p.m. against a traditionally fierce Texas team. Though 2-4 and very young, the Longhorns come to Provo hoping to steal a victory from BYU.
“This game is personal for us,” Rockwood said. “This Texas team beat us a few years ago and was picked over us to get into the NCAA tournament last year. Our girls want some payback.”
Following Thursday’s game, the Cougars welcome the No. 6 Penn State Nittany Lions to the South Field Saturday at 7:30 p.m. for what should be a very competitive game.
The Lions come in with a record of 5-1, losing only to the defending national champions, Stanford.
Among many solid players from last year’s Sweet 16 team, PSU returns one of the best players in the country in Maya Hayes, who led the country in goals last year with 31.
The offense of Penn State could be an issue for the Cougars, but according to BYU’s Ashley Bazzarone, the Cougars are more than ready for the challenge that awaits them.
“We are playing our best right now, especially defensively, and we’ve never played better,” Bazzarone said. “We all have a chemistry and know each other so well that we’re a tough unit to score on. We just need to play with confidence and heart and we can beat anyone.”
The Cougar’s stifling defense will prove to be the difference in this weekend’s games. BYU has already tallied 3 shutout victories and looks to do it again this weekend with defender Cami Jensen returning from injury and bringing the defense to full strength.