No. 6 BYU (10-1-1) scored two first half goals in a 2-1 victory over Portland (4-8-0) to come away with its third consecutive win.
Portland is known for possessing the ball well and BYU women’s soccer head coach Jennifer Rockwood said she thought the Cougars were a little shellshocked at first, then settled down.
“Portland is such a good team when they have the ball,” Rockwood said. “They’re so dangerous, they move so well off the ball.”
Sophomore midfielder Bizzy Phillips played a key role in the win, sending two free kicks from about 50 yards to the top of the box, leading to both Cougar goals. Rockwood said the team is working on serving up dangerous balls.
“We’re telling Bizzy just to send it in and see if anything happens,” Rockwood said. “And today, we scored two goals off of them.”
Junior midfielder Elena Medeiros quickly scored in the eighth minute, one-touching the ball off her chest after a free kick by Phillips. This was Medeiros’ 11th career goal and she now leads the Cougars this season with five goals.
A Portland cross was deflected seven minutes later and landed in the back of the net, making it 1-1 as the Cougars were credited with an own goal.
Sophomore forward Nadia Gomes scored her second goal in as many games in minute 41. Gomes’ winning goal came from the left side, connecting on another Phillips free kick as BYU took the lead 2-1.
BYU outshot Portland 6-3 heading into halftime. Both of the Cougars’ first half shots on goal landed in the back of the net, leaving BYU up 2-1 at the half.
Rockwood said the coaches challenged the girls at halftime to play more physically, slow Portland down after losing possession and win balls quicker. BYU’s 17 fouls show that the girls were more aggressive and took the challenge to heart.
“I thought we really rose to the occasion in the second half and won a lot of the balls to break up their play in the second half that we didn’t win in the first half,” Rockwood said.
Miranda Bailey came in off the bench in the first half and started the second half. She played 51 solid minutes. Rockwood said Bailey played phenomenal and that’s why she kept her in the second half.
“Two years ago, she started and played almost every minute and she hasn’t played as many minutes this year,” Rockwood said. “I felt she deserved an opportunity and she really came through. She helped us settle the ball down.”
Bailey said she has to be prepared to enter the game at any minute and tries to help the team any way she can.
“I have to be mentally tough,” Bailey said. “I bring a little bit of calmness and hopefully a bit of energy out there.”
Goalkeeper Rachel Boaz came up with a key save on Portland’s best scoring opportunity in the 63rd minute, tipping the ball above the crossbar. It was Boaz’s only save of the night.
“You want your keeper not to have to do a whole lot and Rach (Boaz) didn’t have to do a whole lot tonight, but certainly, that one and a couple others were a big difference in the game,” Rockwood said.
BYU outshot Portland 16-4 over and 3-2 in shots on goal. The Cougars had five corner kicks to Portland’s one. BYU has won the last five straight games against Portland since entering the WCC in 2011.
Rockwood is from Oregon and coached in front of a home crowd that included her parents.
Hermann Trophy candidate Ashley Hatch did not play and will be out for about a month due to a small knee fracture that occurred against OSU on Sept. 17.
Rockwood said not having Hatch play was a blow, but she was proud of the team for working hard.
“People really (stepped) up to get the job done. We battled hard tonight,” Rockwood said.
Portland has held the crowd attendance record for the past 10 years, but BYU currently holds the record and will return to South Field on Oct. 9. The Cougars host San Diego at 7 p.m. MDT. 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.