One of the Cougars’ objectives each game is to score a goal earlier than they did in the previous game. It is a tactical decision made by head coach Jennifer Rockwood to get players to utilize a faster tempo.
After tonight, the Cougars may struggle to do that.
It took BYU all of two minutes to strike against visiting Tennessee and the team never looked back en route to a 5-2 victory on Friday night.
Elena Medeiros found Ashley Hatch, who pulled a quick step and found space to get off a shot. The ball sailed to the back of the net in the lower left corner, scoring the first goal of the night for BYU.
Hatch was just named ESPNW’s Player of the Week.
“Ashley is virtually unstoppable at this point,” said assistant coach Chris Watkins. “She can play with her back to the goal or she can just go straight at you.”
Just 20 minutes later BYU found its second goal of the game. Nadia Gomes and Hatch combined to create space for a cross to Michelle Vasconcelos, who didn’t struggle to find the back of the net.
Tennessee found the back of the net in minute No. 13, but BYU answered Tennessee’s goal within a minute as midfielder Elena Medeiros found the back of the net for BYU’s third goal of the night.
At the half BYU had taken eight shots, five of which forced the keeper to make a save and three resulted in goals.
Tennessee pressured hard early entering the second half finding three corners in the first 10 minutes and tempers flared as the physicality escalated.
As a result of the physical play, BYU’s Stephanie Ringwood exited the game early. Yellow cards were given to Tennessee’s Mackenzie Gouner and Maya Neal and BYU’s Jocelyn Loomis.
In minute No. 65, Medeiros was brought down in the box and a penalty kick ensued. Hatch took the kick and it was initially saved, but she was able to put away the bobbled rebound for her second – and BYU’s fourth – goal of the night.
“When I struck it I knew it was close to the center,” Hatch said. “But when I saw I had a second chance I knew just to tuck it in the corner.”
Tennessee’s Hannah Wilkerson connected for her second goal of the night in minute No. 78 and cutting the Cougars’ lead to 4-2.
In minute No. 85 Vasconcelos found the ball in the box and curved the ball around Tennessee’s keeper to find the top right corner to make BYU’s fifth goal of the night.
“(Coach Rockwood) said to go in and settle us down,” Vasconcelos said. “I wasn’t planning on scoring but I pulled the ball back saw the corner and bent it in.”
Watkins described her as the “brains of the forward line.”
Tennessee’s Neal received a yellow card to end the game.
The Cougars will take on the rival Utes on Monday, Sept. 5.