Another ranked team came to South Field Saturday, and another ranked team left with a loss as the No. 8 women’s soccer team beat No. 23 Washington 3-1.
“Washington was a very good team,” sophomore forward Jaiden Thornock said. “We just came out and showed that we were better. We knew that if we came out strong we’d be able to put some goals in the back of the net and that’s exactly what we did.”
The game, however, didn’t quite begin the way the Cougars might have thought. After coming out very aggressive in their last three games, the team started flat, lacking the spark Cougar fans have become accustomed to.
“We knew it would be a tough game,” BYU midfielder Rachel Manning said. “They’re undefeated and we figured they’d come out hard now that we’re ranked and try to upset us. But once we start getting our rhythm, we found ourselves relaxed, sometimes it takes a few minutes to get it, but then we’re good.”
Once the Cougars did come alive, they played some of their best soccer of the year holding UW to only two shots on goal all game. Coach Jennifer Rockwood said she couldn’t be happier with her team’s stellar defensive performance.
“I thought we played a great game,” she said. “Washington’s a great team. We didn’t get as many looks as we have in previous games, but we moved the ball very well and had a great team performance. Our team defense especially looked really solid. It’s a full team effort beginning with our forwards and ending with our keeper. Team defense has always been one of our strengths but this year I think we’re better than ever.”
During the last three weeks of the Cougar’s first home-stand this year, BYU really discovered their identity through difficult competition and victories against three of the nation’s top 25. Most notable of the wins was a dominant performance against No. 6 Penn State. The Cougars controlled the game and came away with a 3-1 win. The game took place in front of a South Field record crowd of 4,922 as BYU showed the world their quick-hitting and hard-nose defensive mentalities are forces to be reckoned with.
In the Cougars’ nine games, the defense has allowed only six goals and has had four shutouts, while the offense has scored 23 times. BYU’s only loss this season came at the hands of Utah; the Utes took the game 1-0.
“Everything is moving in a great direction for us,” Rockwood said. “We have a lot of good momentum; we’ve had great fans who’ve given our girls a great boost of energy. We’ve been pretty dominant at home the last three weeks, and now it’s gonna be important that we take that and show that we can do it away from home.
Looking forward, the Cougars will travel to play Utah State and Oregon on Sep. 20 and 24, respectively. While the Aggie team is not ranked, they won’t go down without a fight. The Aggies (6-1-3) have played into overtime four times this season: twice into double overtime and twice for the win. They beat Utah 1-0 in overtime and tied Washington 1-1 after double overtime.
The Cougars hope to tally road wins against the Aggies and Ducks before returning home Sept. 27 to play UVU.