BYU men’s soccer peaks heading into regional tournament

Savannah Hopkinson
The team celebrates after one of their eight goals against SUU on Oct. 20. (Savannah Hopkinson)

BYU men’s soccer put together a strong performance in their final home game, beating Southern Utah University 8-0 on Oct. 20.  

Eight different players scored and the team achieved their first home shutout, putting them in prime form for the start of this weekend’s regional tournament.

The team started the match with their reserves and gave the Cougars a chance to get warmed up and have some experience on the field going into the busy two-day tournament.

The inexperienced squad held their own and gave the team a 3-0 lead going into halftime.

Coach Brandon Gilliam explained that he wanted to test his team’s depth going into an intense tournament, where it’s not necessarily how good you are, but how “fresh” your players are.

“If your second group isn’t as strong as your starting group then you’ll find troubles during the tournament,” he said.

Payden Pemberton scored his first goal of the year about 20 minutes into the half, and from there the floodgates opened on the offensive end.

Four more starters found the back of the net before the end of the game, including one in the 90th minute from forward Cameron McLaughlin.  

After what seemed like an eternity of missed shots and frustrated possessions, he ended the night on a high note for himself and the team.

The eight-goal explosion was a sight to behold, but the unsung hero of the night was the stout backline, which didn’t allow a single goal for the first time at home this season.

“Of our last four games, I think we’ve given up one goal,” said defender Mitchell Scott. “We worked through some kinks that we had in the beginning of the season, and now we’re peaking at the right time.”

Gilliam was particularly impressed with the distribution of goals and entire-team effort his team showed in their final home match.

“Going into these tournaments we see something we haven’t seen all year, and that’s multiple games in a day,” Gilliam said. “We need every player being able to step on the field and contribute. It’s good to see that everybody is contributing.”

The regional tournament will be held at Utah Valley University this Friday and Saturday, with the Cougars facing three different opponents in the group.

The first game will be Friday, Oct. 27, at 5 p.m. against Gonzaga followed by an 8:30 p.m. match against Oregon State.

BYU will finish off with a 12:30 p.m. game Saturday, Oct. 28, against host UVU.

If the Cougars win the group they will advance to the National Tournament that begins on Nov. 17 in Arizona.

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