BYU men’s soccer beat University of Utah 6-1 on Friday.
The game started out slow, but BYU gained possession quickly and had two shots on goal in the first eight minutes. Utah then took control and Keita Sato scored the first and only goal for the Utes. The BYU defense was able to prevent all other shots on goal in the first half. Freshman Alex Neff had a number of slide tackles and blocks in critical moments of the game.
“Personally, I thought I played well,” Neff said. “At first it was a little hard, they were pressuring us. The goal was a little miscommunication, but as a whole, I thought we played well. Our 50-50’s were good, they are a big team. We did well winning the ball in the air and only gave up one goal.”
The University of Utah keeper and a BYU player were entangled, while BYU’s Kip Critchlow saw the shot and took it for the first BYU goal. It looked as though BYU and the Utes might tie 1-1 like BYU, but the Cougar’s offense picked up in the second half.
“In practice this week we worked on defense (and) winning the ball back in better places on the field,” coach Chris Watkins said. “Instead of winning the ball by our own goal, (we worked on) winning it back on our opponents end so we wouldn’t have to go 90 yards to goal.”
BYU’s Garrett Gee scored in the 48th minute, with an assist by Jonathan Junca. Junca crossed the ball across the goal to Gee, who took the shot. Junca beat the keeper for a wide open shot, and took it to make the score 3-1 in the 63rd minute. Romy Lakip assisted the shot.
Junca had another wide-open goal under a minute later, extending the lead to 4-1.
“I just try to stay in the moment and try not to mess up,” Junca said. “I thought just stay on frame, simple on frame. I get a little anxious in those situations and so far, so good.”
BYU scored two more goals in the game. Romy Lakip was assisted by Jace Green in the 76th minute. Lakip barely got the shot off, and the ball rolled past the goal line to make the score 5-1. Gee had a second goal to make the final score 6-1.
BYU’s goal keeper, freshman Nate Stoven, had an exceptional game, blocking an indirect kick before leaving the game with an injury. Stoven was hurt when he came out of the goal to block a shot, and did not return the remainder of the game. He was replaced by Jake Peterson.
The game was physical with one yellow card awarded to each team. One card was given to the Utes Geoff Miller after repeated pushing, and the other to Neff for an illegal slide tackle.
“There is that rivalry,” Junca said. “There is a lot of things that the fans don’t see.”