BYU men’s soccer draws against Las Vegas in heartbreaker

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BYU midfielder Pedro Vasconcelos takes a kick against the Las Vegas Mobsters. The Cougars drew 1-1 with the Mobsters Thursday. (Photographer)
BYU midfielder Pedro Vasconcelos takes a kick against the Las Vegas Mobsters. The Cougars drew 1-1 with the Mobsters Thursday. (Natalie Stoker)

The BYU men’s soccer team had a disappointing draw Thursday night after a late goal by the Las Vegas Mobsters knotted up the score 1-1.

Midfielder Josh Hunter said he felt the team played well, but said the Cougars need to be better about closing games.

“We’ve just gotta be physically and mentally intense for 90 minutes,” Hunter said. “We make a lot of good plays and a lot of good things happen, but then there are those moments when you kind of forget to think. We’ve gotta play for 90 minutes straight.”

The Cougars played a good game throughout, finishing with more shots and corner kicks than their opponent. However, they were unable to put in several good looks throughout the game, which left things constantly within reach for the Mobsters.

Las Vegas had the first scoring opportunity with a shot at the 15-minute mark that sailed just high of the crossbar. BYU then had a chance at the 21-minute mark on a free kick, which went just wide of the goal.

The Cougars were aggressive throughout the first half, giving themselves several more opportunities to score. But after they were unable to net anything, the Cougars entered the half tied 0-0.

Thirteen minutes into the second half BYU was finally able to convert on a scoring opportunity, as Payden Pemberton put in a goal on an assist from Pedro Vasconcelos, giving the Cougars a 1-0 lead at the 58-minute mark.

Ryan Botcherby jockeys with a Las Vegas defender. (Natalie Stoker)
Ryan Botcherby jockeys with a Las Vegas defender. (Natalie Stoker)

BYU had another great look at the 65-minute mark, but the Las Vegas goalkeeper made an incredible save that kept the game within reach.

Things heated up after that and play got very physical starting near the 73-minute mark as three yellow cards were handed out over the next 15 minutes, two to Las Vegas players, and one to BYU defender Tanner Whitworth.

Unfortunately for the Cougars, the Mobsters then put in a goal at the 88-minute mark, tying the game 1-1.

The Cougars were unable to respond and the game ended in a draw.

Forward Cameron McLaughlin said despite conceding the late goal, the Cougars played a good game.

“We did well,” McLaughlin said. “We attacked well. We possessed the ball. We moved it fluidly. We really had a good attack going. Overall, our performance was good. We played well as a team.”

Coach Brandon Gilliam said that it is important for the team to learn from this heartbreaking draw.

“At this level, games are won and lost on moments,” Gilliam said. “You can play fantastic for the whole 90 minutes and have one moment that costs you.┬áBut the players are playing well collectively as a group–we’re disciplined, we’re organized, we’re creating chances, we’re eliminating our opponents’ chances. We just have to make sure in those moments we are 100 percent.”