The No. 6 BYU women’s soccer team (8-1-1) wrapped up non-conference play with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Long Beach State University (5-3-3).
“It was a tough, tough game,” BYU head coach Jennifer Rockwood said. “We feel really proud to come out on top.”
Michele Murphy Vasconelos had a big night, assisting both BYU goals. Elena Medeiros scored her second goal in two games while Hermann Trophy candidate Ashley Hatch also netted a goal. Both Medeiros and Hatch now lead the team with four goals a piece this season.
A scoreless first half left both teams hungry. Vasconcelos recorded her first assist of the night when she passed to Medeiros in the 52nd minute. Medeiros took on three opposing players and then fired off a left-footed one-touch shot to far post, giving the Cougars a 1-0 lead.
Vasconcelos said she planned to take the shot herself, but saw Medeiros five feet behind her and decided to set her up instead.
“That was perfect,” Vasconelos said. “I was seriously so happy right then.”
Long Beach State’s Ashley Gonzales equalized 1-1 on a penalty kick in the 69th minute after a BYU foul in the box.
Six minutes later Vasconelos had her second assist to Hatch, who answered with a game-winning shot to far post, putting BYU up 2-1.
“Ashley Hatch (did) what she does so well — an unbelievable play to put the winning goal in,” Rockwood said.
Long Beach State outshot BYU 12-9, but BYU was more effective in scoring on two of those nine shots. The Cougars also had eight corner kicks on the night.
Rockwood said BYU wanted to find opportunities in the box and focus on finding the goal frame after their 1-1 tie against Cal Poly two days earlier. The Cougars did just that, as two of their three shots on goal went in.
Vasconcelos added BYU had a meeting before the game where they discussed how to improve their shots from the Cal Poly game. Their goal was to shoot in the 18-yard box as well as just outside of it. If the player who had the ball didn’t have a shot, she was to find someone who did.
“We really put that into play,” Vasconelos said. “It was awesome that we came and implemented it into the game.”
Junior goalkeeper Rachel Boaz had three saves and is ranked third in the country for save percentage and goals against average.
“We also saw this was a proving ground for us,” Rockwood said. “It comes down sometimes to matches like this or halves like this that can define a season.”
The Cougars will open WCC play at Gonzaga University on Thursday, October 1 at 4 p.m. PST. The game can be streamed on the WCC’s website TheW.tv. Radio broadcasts can be found on Cougar IMG Sports Network, ESPN 960 AM and BYU Radio – Sirius XM 143.