The No. 1 seed BYU women’s soccer team proved once again Saturday they are a special team as they downed the No. 4 seed Marquette Golden Eagles in a sudden death shoot out, 6–5.
“This was a huge game,” BYU Head Coach Jennifer Rockwood said. “It was a battle and there was obviously a ton of emotion for both teams. I thought the girls stood in there and weathered the storm and we came away with the win.”
The physical contest led to several yellow cards given to both teams and a few tense moments throughout when players went down hard. One such moment was when BYU goalkeeper Erica Owens and a Marquette forward collided going for a ball crossed high in the air. After trainers came out onto the field, Owens slowly got up to stay in the game, but the Marquette forward left the field.
The score was 0–0 through regulation with the Cougars’ offense earning countless shots, but unable to capitalize on their opportunities.
Leading the country in shutouts with 18, Marquette’s defense carried them throughout the game as it has all year and stonewalled the Cougars throughout regulation and double overtime.
With suffocating defense prevailing throughout the game, the fans who crowded into South Field began to get restless as overtime began, and, for the first time all year, the Cougars were being seriously tested.
But BYU players were not shaken as the invaluable senior leadership kept the No. 2 team in the country confident and hungry. All-American Lindsi Lisonbee Cutshall was all over the field making constant game-saving stops, breaking up passes and putting pressure on from the back field as the veteran back line of the Cougars kept Marquette’s shots to a minimum.
After two 10-minute overtime periods without a score, the game was pushed to penalty kicks.
“I knew we were going to win the game,” Cutshall said. “I watch my teammates practice these PKs every day and so I knew they were going to get the job done out there, and I just needed to cheer for them and let them know that I was confident.”
After a nerve-racking set of penalty kicks, sophomore Kayla Varner stepped up with the opportunity to send the Cougars to the Elite Eight. She capitalized on the opportunity and with composure and confidence put the ball in the goal. Fans and the Cougar faithful rushed the field as the Cougars once again overcome their trials to find a way to win.
“I think, for me, the most exciting part about that was I got to keep the seniors going,” Varner said. “We now get to go to the Elite Eight, so I’m happy about it.”
Up next in the playoff run for the Cougars is the No. 2 seed North Carolina Tarheels at 6 p.m. on Friday at South Field.