Pepperdine downs BYU soccer 3-2 in final WCC game

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The BYU women’s soccer team couldn’t overcome a poor first half and fell 3-2 to the Pepperdine Waves Saturday afternoon. The loss snapped a 13-game unbeaten streak for the Cougars.

The last time BYU tasted defeat was on Sept. 11 against LSU.

The No. 1-ranked Pepperdine squad came into the game poised to put a damper on the Cougars’ West Coast Conference victory party. The Cougars prepared well for the match, but early mistakes and a tough Pepperdine offense at home were too much for BYU.

Niki Fernandes takes the ball down field towards the goal in a game earlier this season (Universe Photo).
Niki Fernandes takes the ball down field towards the goal in a game earlier this season. (Universe Photo)

BYU scored first in the 19th minute, when Marissa Nimmer played a header to Niki Fernandes, who then got the ball to Ashley Hatch. Hatch fought her way to the goal, only to be blocked by Pepperdine defenders. She found a way to put the ball in the back of the net and put the Cougars up 1-0.

In the 32nd minute, Pepperdine’s Amanda Lecave put a header past BYU goal keeper Kat Snyder, tying things up at 1-1. About 10 minutes later, Pepperdine took advantage of a failed clearance, with Colby Carson putting a boot to the ball and putting the Waves up 2-1.

Shortly after the second half began, the scoring wave continued for Pepperdine, as Ally Holtz scored on a pass from teammate Lynn Williams, leaving the Cougars down 3-1.

In the 60th minute, BYU found some hope when Michele Murphy played a pretty pass to Fernandes, who then put the ball past the Pepperdine goal keeper and left a one-goal deficit, with plenty of time left on the clock for a tying score. The BYU offense had other chances to match Pepperdine but fell short on all of its attempts, leaving the final score at 3-2.

“It’s tough when you play a great team on the road,” said BYU head coach Jennifer Rockwood. “The second half we played phenomenal. We got one in and probably should have put more in.”

BYU finishes the regular season 13-4-3, with a good résumé for the NCAA tournament, which starts next week. The Cougars already wrapped up an automatic tournament bid by winning the WCC but may be ranked lower than Pepperdine based on RPI rankings.  A loss in the final regular season game isn’t the best way for BYU to finish the season, but it will serve as a learning experience that will catapult the team strongly into tournament play.

“We only gave up five shots, and Pepperdine made them count with three good goals,” Rockwood said. “There are some good lessons we learned today that will propel us into next weekend. We battled hard and were very dominant in the second half. Everyone felt like it was going to fall for us and we were going to force overtime.”

With a win, BYU would have all but wrapped up a home field advantage game in the first round of the NCAA Tournament next week. The Cougars will now have to wait anxiously for the NCAA selection show to see their seeding and location. For fans who would like to watch, the show will be streaming live on Monday, Nov. 10, at 2:30 p.m. on NCAA.com.

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