The No. 6 BYU women’s soccer team lost in heartbreaking fashion Saturday to the UC Irvine Anteaters on a goal with 30 seconds left to play.
“It’s tough to lose in the last 30 seconds of the game because for the most part I thought our defense did a pretty good job of not giving up any good looks,” head coach Jennifer Rockwood said.
The goal, scored on a one-on-one with BYU senior goalkeeper Erica Owens, was the first goal allowed by Owens in 257 minutes of play. Despite the goal, the Cougar defense had another strong outing limiting the strong UC Irvine attack throughout the game.
The Anteaters controlled possession of the ball for the majority of the game, an unusual occurrence for a visiting team at South Field. The Anteaters were not intimidated by the highly ranked Cougars or the sold-out crowd.
“We wanted to enjoy the atmosphere and enjoy playing what is a great team,” UC Irvine head coach Scott Juniper said. “We wanted to put them on their heels as much as possible.”
BYU indeed seemed to be on the Anteaters’ heels for most of the game, finding it hard to get into an offensive rhythm. The lack of offense has been the story of the last several games. After scoring 15 goals in the first four games of the season, the Cougars have found the back of the net only once in the last three games.
“Our rhythm offensively is not where it needs to be, not where it was a couple weeks ago,” Rockwood said. “We need players to get shots off.”
Offensive output will be the focal point of BYU’s preparation heading into its upcoming schedule. Rockwood said the Cougars would like to return to the dominant offensive form they displayed at the beginning of the season.
Dex Nye, a graduate student from Mesa, Ariz., and a regular at home games at South Field noticed the difference.
“It just didn’t seem like a typical BYU performance tonight,” he said.
Last year, the Cougars lost a similarly heartbreaking loss at Utah that proved to be a turning point in their season. After the loss, the team went unbeaten in the next 20 games, eventually making it to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament. Rockwood feels like this loss can have the same impact on this team.
“We bounced back really well last year after a tough loss and hopefully we can do the same again,” Rockwood said. “I think this is a fantastic team and I really believe in them and I think we just need to believe in ourselves to move forward.”
The Cougars will try to bounce back at home Sept. 19, against the Oklahoma Sooners. The Sooners defeated the Cougars 2–0 in 2011 in Norman, Okla.