BYU mens’ soccer stays strong against professional Real Salt Lake

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The BYU mens’ soccer team lost 1-0 against the professional Real Salt Lake team at Rio Tinto Stadium Monday night.

This exhibition game was unlike any other BYU has played this season. Real Salt Lake started many key players, and a few recovering from injuries. Lovel Palmer, Aaron Maund, Khari Stephenson and Chris Wingert all played in the exhibition game which made this an extremely competitive match for the Cougars.

Matt Rider controls the ball during the game against University of Utah (Photo by Sarah Hill).
Matt Rider controls the ball during the game against University of Utah (Photo by Sarah Hill).

Much of the game tested the BYU defense. Sterling Hancock prevented a shot in the third minute, showing how the game would progress throughout the night. Pressure on goal continued; however, the Cougars held the RSL offense at bay.

The only goal was scored by midfielder John Stertzer at the end of the first half. Olmes Garcia headed the ball across the goal, when Stertzer nodded the ball past the goalkeeper.

Goalkeeper Brian Hale had a number of saves during the game. In one play RSL split the goal, but Hale came out of goal to challenge Jordan Allen and send the ball flying. Hale also came out of the 6-yard box to challenge RSL in the second half. Playing with RSL was no new experience for Hale, as he was invited to train with the team over the summer.

“I’ve played with these guys before, so I was pretty comfortable playing in this situation,” Hale said. “It’s a great atmoshpere and it’s like coming back to something familiar.”

The BYU coach Chris Watkins was extremely proud of his players for putting up a good fight against the professional team. Watkins felt this game showed his team what needs to be improved upon before the regular season begins.

“Defensively, tonight, I really like what we put in,” Watkins said. “But offensively, we need to find better ways to switch to attack. Overall, I’m proud of our guys, offensively as well.”

 Watkins knew this game would be a tough one, competing at a higher level of play.
“These guys practice at a higher speed, so if we play these guys, the ball just moves faster,” Watkins said. “They’re bigger and stronger. They have control over the ball much, much better, but when you play fulltime, you get that. Our guys are studying while they’re practicing that’s the difference.”
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