The BYU Cougars pulled out a win against the Las Vegas Mobsters despite sloppy play.
On May 24, the Cougars had to rely on great play from their goal keeper, Jake Peterson, to keep their undefeated streak alive. The Cougars narrowly beat the Mobsters 3-2.
“We did just enough to win,” said BYU head coach Chris Watkins. “We did not play well at all tonight.”
The Cougars put themselves in a good position early with a couple of quick goals. Senior captain Garrett Gee put BYU on the board early off a great pass from Jonathon Junca.
“A quarterback couldn’t have given me the ball better with his arm,” Gee said of Junca’s pass.
A few minutes later, assisted by Gee, Scott Heaton found the back of the goal with a beautiful shot from 30 yards out.
“Scotty had to hit that ball just perfectly,” Gee said. “I turned around and watched it sail under the crossbar; I honestly was more happy about that goal than I was about my own goal.”
After their strong start, the Cougars struggled to control the ball and maintain possession.
Halftime came as a welcome relief as the Cougars held on to their 2-0 lead heading into the locker room.
Things only got worse as the Cougars continued to struggle with ball security.
“We got sloppier,” Watkins said. “Last week we sat back after we went up; this week we weren’t trying to sit back, We were turning the ball over so much it looked like we were sitting back.”
The Mobsters captain, Victor Abelaez, capitalized on the Cougars’ mistakes by finding a path to the goal, bringing the score 2-1.
Shortly after the goal, Abelaez and Peterson collided hard, causing Abelaez a brutal leg injury that delayed the game several minutes.
“We had a lot to talk about during the injury because we were struggling so much,” Watkins said. “We talked about making sure we supported the ball with confidence.”
After Abelaez was carted off the field on a stretcher the game continued and BYU started to play a cleaner game.
BYU’s Pedro Vasconcelos took a hard foul in the 90th minute and was able to capitalize on a penalty kick, giving the Cougars some breathing room as they went up 3-1.
Immediately after the penalty kick, the Mobsters showed they were not giving up as Jason Eng answered back, bringing the score 3-2.
But time ran out on the Mobsters as the Cougars secured a 3-2 win.
“It’s nice to win when we played so bad,” Watkins said. “The last few games we kind of glossed them over and said we are doing great. I’ll take a wake-up call with three points any day.”
The Cougars will take their perfect season on the road next week as they play FC Tucson May 29 and then take on the Mobsters again May 31.
Fans can tune in and watch the games live on YouTube on the BYU men’s soccer team channel.