The Fusion’s attack was much too strong Saturday and the Cougars were unable to avenge last year’s losses, losing the Saturday night match 3-1.
It was BYU’s first loss of the regular season, dropping them to third place in the division and a 1-1-1 record. Ventura County improved to 2-0-0 and currently sit a top the division in first place.
It was the Cougars’ third game in five days on the road.
“I’m afraid ultimately the three games in five days really took its toll on us tonight,” head coach Chris Watkins said.
BYU defended well in the first half, keeping the ball out of the middle and deflecting passes and shots alike. Goalkeeper Brian Hale came up big in the first half with three saves, after Ventura County was able to score early on a diving header. The BYU offense played well in the first half, tallying five shots on goal. However, the Fusion’s goalkeeper was more than enough defense and made five spectacular saves to keep the lead in favor of Ventura County.
The Cougars came out strong in the second half offensively, scoring in the opening minutes to equalize. Midfielder Romy Lakip was able to slip a ball to other midfielder Jace Green who turned and fired a shot past the Ventura goalkeeper. Unfortunately, the Fusion were able to break free in the backfield a few minutes later and reclaimed the lead. It was all Ventura County from there on out, with the Fusion putting in a header late in the second half to seal the victory.
“It was a disappointing result for us tonight,” Watkins said. “We did play well for stretches.”
A few encouraging bright spots in the game leave the Cougars hopeful for the rest of the season. Center back Alex Neff, a freshman, is already making an impact for BYU on defense. He played well, disrupting passes and deflecting shots throughout the game to keep it within reach for the Cougars.
“He is really making a great name for himself.” Watkins said of Neff.
Another bright spot for the Cougars was their passing. BYU was able to convert 65 percent of their passes against the Fusion. An impressive increase from 53 percent against Fresno two days earlier.
The team finally returns home for a much needed break. They will rest and practice this week before leaving Friday for Colorado to take on the Real Colorado Foxes Saturday night. This will be the Cougars last away game for a while. They return to play a four game home stand on South Field, starting May 31.