Chants of “BYU! BYU!” echoed through South Field as the No. 11 BYU women’s soccer team celebrated its third goal in the final eight minutes of the game to beat the Oklahoma Sooners 3–2.
“They came out and got the job done. What a game! At halftime we said we were going to see what we are made of in the second half, and the girls found a way to win,” said Cougar head coach Jennifer Rockwood.
For the first 82 minutes, the game looked like it may be another lackluster offensive performance by the usually high-octane Cougars. BYU had trouble finding the back of the net again in the first half. The team won eight corner kicks and took five shots, but nothing seemed to click.
On the other side, Oklahoma scored two goals on its three first-half shots.
“Giving up two goals on three shots in a first half is disheartening, and the girls fought back,” Rockwood said.
BYU came out of the halftime break and continued to apply the pressure on the Oklahoma defense, but the ball still had trouble finding the back of the net.
Late in the game, Coach Rockwood made a tactical substitution to bring in another attacker that proved to be a crucial move as the Cougars captured the momentum.
“We made a sub there at the end to put in another attacking player, and that seemed to work for us,” Rockwood said.
The drama and excitement began with 15 minutes to play when the Cougars scored what looked to be their first goal. However, the goal was quickly called back on a controversial offsides call.
Initially, the call seemed to deflate the team, but they continued to apply the pressure. In the 83rd minute, the Cougars won another corner kick. Freshman defender Ella Johnson took the ball off the corner and fired a rocket into the back of the net from the top of the box. The goal was Johnson’s first of her career.
“I was up farther than I usually am because the time was winding down. The ball rolled out to me and I had my chance, so I took it. It was unreal. I was so excited,” Johnson said.
About a minute later, an aggressive attack by freshman forward Ashley Hatch drew a penalty in the box. Sophomore defender Paige Hunt calmly put the penalty kick in to tie the game at two goals each.
With two minutes to play, the crowd, preparing for an exciting overtime period, erupted as a rebound came directly to junior forward Jaiden Thornock. Thornock settled the ball and fired in what proved to be the winning goal, her first of the season.
“I saw that shot ricochet off and I saw a wide-open net, and I composed myself and touched it in like we do in practice every day. I’m grateful to my team for working so hard and getting me that shot,” Thornock said. “We knew we were on fire, and we knew we had the momentum.”
Coach Rockwood praised the play of senior midfielders Cloee Colohan and Rachel Manning for controlling the ball and the reserve players who came in and helped BYU set up the comeback. The Cougars finished with 14 shots to the Sooners’ 4.
The Cougars travel to Long Beach State to play Sept. 21, where they will look to keep the momentum going and build off of their big win.
“We just have to keep rolling with it,” Thornock said.