5 things to know for BYU soccer vs. Portland

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The BYU Women’s Soccer team is on a tear lately, winning its last six games. If you haven’t been to South Field this year to check them out, this week is the perfect time to do that. The West Coast Conference action starts this week on Thursday as the Cougars’ heated rival, Portland, visits town. Here are the five things you need to know for Thursday night’s game:

Elisabeth Phillips moves past a defender (Universe Photo.)
Elisabeth Phillips moves past a defender. (Universe Photo)

1. This game is a must-win for both teams

The University of Portland came into the season with high hopes of repeating as West Coast Conference champions. They won a share of that championship last year, along with BYU and Santa Clara.

This game is a must-win for both teams.

Portland comes to South Field with a record of 5-5-2 but has won two straight against WCC opponents. A win against the Cougars (who just jumped back into the national rankings at No. 23) would help them on the road to that coveted conference championship.

For the Cougars, it is important to keep their six-game win streak going. BYU was 1-3-2 after the loss to the LSU Tigers on Sept. 11. Since that date, the Cougars have not lost a single game, and they enter Thursday’s matchup with a record of 7-3-2. BYU won its first conference game against San Diego last Friday night. If the Cougars desire to continue on a path to the WCC championship, they must win this game.

2. BYU must continue to score in bunches

The Cougars started out the season in a scoring drought of sorts, posting only six goals through the team’s first six games. BYU turned the corner and started scoring, and with the scoring came the winning. Since the loss to LSU, BYU has tripled the scoring output of its first six matchups, notching 18 goals in just as many games. The Cougars are averaging three goals per game throughout the win streak. If they continue to score and keep Portland held to a shutout or just one goal, they have a great chance of pulling out a win.

3. The Pilots don’t score a lot of goals, but they know how to win

Portland has scored only 14 times up to this point in the season. That’s significantly less than the 24 goals punched in by BYU. Despite their scoring issues, the Pilots know how to win in close games and have started to figure things out at the right time, just before conference play. Portland has won or tied four of its last five games, the latest beating both Pacific and Saint Mary’s over the weekend. If they are put into a close game situation, the Pilots have experience in those types of games and will show that experience and play into a tie or take things into overtime.

4. Freshmen must continue to be valuable contributions for the Cougars

Freshmen have been key to BYU’s success and win streak. Freshmen Nadia Gomes, Elisabeth Phillips and Maddie Lyons have all scored goals so far this season, with Lyons notching two game-winners. All of the freshmen on the team have been a key spark for coach Jennifer Rockwood.

“They are young, and they are working extremely hard,” Rockwood said of the freshmen after the win against Colorado College. “They want more than anything to represent BYU in a winning way.”

Those freshmen will be counted on to contribute if BYU hopes to win against the Pilots.

5. BYU women’s soccer will honor its very own Hall of Fame coach

While football legend Jim McMahon was enshrined into the BYU Hall of Fame this past weekend, BYU women’s soccer has a legend of its own to honor Thursday night. During halftime, the Cougars will hold a ceremony to commemorate the induction of assistant coach Aleisha Rose into the BYU Hall of Fame.

Thursday night will be a game you won’t want to miss. The game starts at 6 p.m., will be played at South Field and will be broadcast on BYUtv.

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