Cougars settle for tie with Gaels

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BYU’s Marissa Nimmer takes a shot. (BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)

After 110 minutes of play, and in spite of 31 shots, the 15th-ranked Cougars (12-3-3, 6-0-1) had to settle for a 1-1 draw with the Saint Mary’s Gaels on Thursday in California.

BYU, who was on an 11-game win streak, failed to clinch a part of the West Coast Conference Championship. The Cougars will have another opportunity on Saturday to clench the conference outright against Pacific.

“Obviously, it’s not the result we wanted,” BYU head coach Jennifer Rockwood said in a press release. “We played really well; when you get 31 shots you think more than one is going in.”

BYU started off hot, coming out and controlling the game. In the 12th minute, Ashley Hatch stole the ball from a Gael defender and found Elena Medeiros, who crossed the ball to Marissa Nimmer. Nimmer fired a shot into the far net of the goal to give the Cougars a 1-0 lead.

The Cougars continued to control the game, but in the 30th minute, Saint Mary’s capitalized off a BYU turnover to even the score. This was the Gaels’ only shot on goal the entire game.

BYU came out fired up in the second half. Michele Murphy had a shot that hit the crossbar in the first minute of the second half. The Cougars continued to attack the goal but could not find the back of the net.

In the 65th minute Bizzy Phillips had a game-winning opportunity for the Cougars when she headed a ball of a corner kick, but her header went just wide of the goal.

Another chance came for the Cougars in the 75th minute, when Hatch had a shot that hit the far post but rebounded to Michele Murphy, who found Medeiros at the top of the six-yard box. MEdeiros was unable to capitalize, her shot going over the goal.

The game ended in a 1-1 tie, sending the Cougars to overtime. Four minutes into overtime, the Saint Mary’s keeper made a huge save, stopping another shot by Hatch.

The Cougars continued to have scoring opportunities in overtime but could not capitalize and ended the night with a 1-1 draw.

“We’ve been scoring so well that I though we’d get (a goal),” Rockwood said. “We just have to regroup and stay positive. We can still accomplish all the goals we have. We’ve just got to keep pushing forward, and we still have a chance to win the conference outright on Saturday.”

The Cougars outshot the Gaels 31-4 and earned 12 corner kicks compared to Saint Mary’s one. Saint Mary’s keeper had 10 saves on the night to help her team earn a draw.

“We’ve been scoring so well that I though we’d get (a goal),” Rockwood said. “We just have to regroup and stay positive. We can still accomplish all the goals we have. “We’ve just got to keep pushing forward, and we still have a chance to win the conference outright on Saturday.”

With a win on Saturday the Cougars will clinch the conference and receive an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The game kicks off at 7 p.m. (PDT).

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