Seventeenth-ranked BYU defeated Santa Clara for the first time in BYU history, routing the Broncos 5-2 in a fast-paced, aggressive game at South Field. It was the Cougars’ (11-3-2, 5-0-0) 10th consecutive win; they are undefeated in conference play this season.
“Santa Clara is one of the top programs in the country,” head coach Jennifer Rockwood said. “We have a tremendous amount of respect for them and all of their coaches. To beat a quality opponent like that is certainly a big deal for us.”
The Cougars started off hot, with Ashley Hatch scoring in the third minute. Elena Medeiros passed to Hatch in the 18-yard box, where she chipped over the top of the keeper for her 13th goal of the season.
The Broncos answered back quickly, scoring in the fourth minute of the game when Sofia Huerta crossed the ball to Mariana Galvan, who deflected the ball past BYU’s keeper, Katherine Snyder. Galvan’s goal snapped Snyder’s three-game shutout streak.
Both teams settled into the game, making quick attacks and playing aggressively. In the 10th minute, BYU had two shots by Michele Murphy and Avery Calton that were blocked and sailed just high of the goal.
In the 23rd minute, Murphy found the back of the net on a breakaway, beating the keeper and pounding a left-footed shot into the far side of the net to give the Cougars a 2-1 lead.
The Cougars’ lead didn’t last long. SCU responded back with another goal in the 25th minute by Brittany Ambrose, tying the game again 2-2. The Broncos’ goal came off a free kick from just outside the 18-yard box. BYU’s Sarah Chambers was called for a push, a call fans were not happy about.
Both teams played with high intensity, and both had opportunities to take the lead. In the 29th minute, Hatch collected the ball just past half, dribbled through four defenders and ripped a shot past the goal. This spectacular play by Hatch gave the Cougars a 3-2 lead.
Jaiden Thornock almost gave the Cougars a 4-2 lead in the 35th minute but just skimmed over the the top of the goal. Nadia Gomes and Bizzy Phillips both had shots on goal before halftime but couldn’t capitalize, sending the Cougars to halftime with a 3-2 lead.
BYU came out fired up in the second half as Murphy netted her second goal of the game only four minutes into the half. Niki Fernandes assisted her to give the Cougars a 4-2 lead.
BYU did not let up on its attack. Marissa Nimmer, Hatch and Fernandes all had shots in the first 10 minutes of the half. In the 63rd and 72nd minutes Fernandes and Murphy each had a shot on goal that was blocked by the Broncos’ keeper.
As the game neared the end, there was lots of back and forth possession as well as fouls and offsides called on both teams. BYU capped off its scoring in the 87th minute when Nadia Gomes scored the final goal of the night to give the Cougars a 5-2 win.
As the final whistle blew, the Cougars celebrated their first-ever win against Santa Clara and their 10th straight win of the season.
“Most importantly, we wanted to get three points tonight to move closer to our goal of winning the conference,” Rockwood said.
The Cougars are back in action this Saturday night at South Field as they take on San Francisco at 7 p.m. This is the last home game of the season.