BYU men’s soccer loses in US Open Cup on penalty kick

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BYU soccer suffered a heartbreaking loss to Harpo’s FC on a penalty kick in the first round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The Cougars were unable to pull off the win after keeping Harpo to a scoreless game after 90 minutes of regulation play and two 15-minute overtime periods.

BYU goal keeper lays on the ground after losing to Harpo's FC. The game went to penalty kicks after two overtime periods and regulation remained scoreless. (Ari Davis)
A BYU goal keeper lies on the ground after losing to Harpo’s FC. The game went to penalty kicks after two overtime periods and regulation remained scoreless. (Ari Davis)

“There’s a lot for us to take out of this one,” said BYU head coach Chris Watkins. “We were much smarter in the midfield. We did well with the time we had, connected maybe 500 passes. To lose a game like that, it happens maybe once in a hundred times. Just not today.”

Harpo’s FC came to play right out of the game. It fought offensively and spent the first couple of minutes in Cougar territory. BYU was definitely smaller in comparison to Harpo’s FC players but made up for it in speed. Both teams battled for possession of the ball over the first half of the game.

Momentum increased as both teams picked up speed. Multiple times Harpo’s FC managed to find holes in the BYU defense. BYU goal keeper Jake Petersen kept the game at zero after seeing four shots.

It was clear that the Cougars’ strategy had changed from the first half within moments of the second half. They focused on an aggressive offense instead of focusing on defense. Within 65 seconds the Cougars had two shots on goal.

BYU dominated the possession in Harpo’s FC territory for shots, but Harpo’s FC goal keeper Zac Gibbens kept the draw alive.

BYU and Harpo’s FC finished all 90 minutes of regulation time, playing an aggressive and exhausting game.

During the two 15-minute overtime periods the Cougars had a few chances to score. BYU midfielder Pedro Vasconcelos had a couple of key shots but was not able to connect with the back of the net.

Penalty kicks decided who would move on. BYU midfielder Dallin Cutler started the Cougars off strong as he scored the first penalty kick. Harpo’s FC answered with a score of its own.

The Cougars lost momentum, as their second and third PKs were either blocked or went wide of the post. Both Harpo’s players scored and led the count 3-1.

BYU defender Ethan Meyer kept the Cougars alive by making the fourth penalty kick. It was too late, and Harpo’s FC sealed the game with all four penalty kicks.

“I thought that we played really well,” said BYU defender Ethan Meyer. “We played to our strengths and our advantages. We held them to zero goals, which is always a positive thing in our eyes. It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t pull it through, but we had a lot of chances in the box and didn’t finish them. When it comes down to PKs it really is just a 50/50 chance.”

The Cougars, though eliminated from the U.S. Open Cup, continue their season in Albuquerque May 21 and at home June 6.

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