The Cougars battled back in the second half from a goal down to beat the Oregon Ducks 2-1 on a warm Thursday night at South Field.
Madi Lyons scored late in the contest to put BYU on top for good. It was fitting that Lyons scored the game-winning goal, and the first goal of her BYU career, because it was her 19th birthday.
“It couldn’t be any better,” Lyons said of her goal. “I actually visualized it in my head. It’s my sweet spot.”
Lyons’ goal was most certainly sweet. It came in the 76th minute, when BYU threw the ball in and Lyons dribbled into the middle, fired a beautiful shot from outside the 18 yard box that soared past the outstretched hands of the Oregon goalkeeper.
Both teams started off the game with several scoring opportunities. The Oregon keeper blocked Michelle Murphy and Ashley Hatch’s shots in the 17th and 23rd minutes of the game, respectively.
The Ducks found the back of the net first in the 30th minute, when Oregon’s Allie Rodriguez rebounded a corner kick and fired it back in over the hands of the Cougars’ goalkeeper.
BYU had several more scoring opportunities and outshot the Ducks 8-5 in the first half but went into halftime down a goal. The Cougars and Ducks returned fired up in the second half, and the match turned physical. Oregon ended the night with 17 fouls compared to BYU’s 12.
In the 50th minute Ashley Hatch was fouled in the box and awarded a penalty kick. Marissa Nimmer stepped up and calmly slotted the kick past Oregon’s keeper.
“Our coaches have us practice it every day, so I knew it was going to go in,” Nimmer said of her penalty kick.
Both teams struggled for possession after the equalizing goal, and it became a battle of physicality. Lyons netted her game winner in the 76th minute, and BYU held off a strong Oregon team to notch its second win in the past week.
“A very huge win for us tonight against a great opponent,” coach Jennifer Rockwood said. “Oregon is very fast and dangerous. I loved the way our girls battled; we went down a goal, and the girls battled back. We had great play from all of our players.”
Rockwood also spoke highly of Lyons’ work ethic in practice.
“Madi has had a fantastic two weeks of practice,” Rockwood said. “She has been playing really well right now, so we have a lot of confidence in her.”
The Cougars hope to continue building their confidence as they take on Colorado College Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The contest will be their last home game before a three-game road trip.