BYU women’s soccer returned home to South Field on Oct. 25 against San Francisco and Oct. 27 against No. 6 Santa Clara. Wins against both teams propelled the team to West Coast Conference champions and an automatic NCAA tournament bid.
Although BYU won 4-0 against the San Francisco Dons, the first half was a battle for the Cougars. According to head coach Jennifer Rockwood, the Dons were sitting back and weren’t pressuring the ball.
“They were drawing the line at the center, so we worked on having our backs carry the ball and draw them,” Rockwood said. “We did it a little too much in the first half because they weren’t stepping.”
As the half wore on, both teams began to play more aggressively. The score was 0-0 at the 44th minute, with 17 shots on goal by BYU versus only three by San Francisco.
Ten seconds before halftime, midfielder Makaylie Moore took a shot. It was deflected by the goalkeeper, but sliding into the box, Moore made a goal off the deflection.
“(We) didn’t get frustrated when we didn’t score (until the end of) the first half. (Moore) came out and put it away with 10 seconds left,” Rockwood said.
The long-awaited goal — and Moore’s fourth goal in three games — received a well-deserved celebration from the crowd and Moore’s teammates.
Opening the second half, San Francisco came out with intensity. The Dons changed their formation to attack and put pressure on the ball.
BYU was undeterred by the change of pace. Goal keeper Sabrina Davis blocked two consecutive shots on goal, keeping the score at 1-0.
The Cougars sized up the opposing team and put the ball at the back of the net multiple times. Junior forward Elise Flake stepped up and scored back-to-back goals within a minute of each other.
Flake passed two defenders and rushed the goal. Inside the 18, and only a few feet from the goalkeeper, Flake fired off a shot right over the keeper’s head in the 62nd minute.
“I actually know (the goalkeeper) from playing club,” Flake said. “She stuffed me like three or four times in the first half. I was just kind of dinking around with the ball, and so I decided to just take a bigger touch. That’s what kind of separated me from her.”
In the 63rd minute, Flake made her second goal of the night with a header from a crossover by midfielder Lizzy Braby. The ball went through the keeper’s legs bringing the score to 3-0.
In the 86th minute, Cameron Tucker ripped away from a San Francisco defender and raced for the goal. Tucker fired off a right footed shot from the box which found the bottom left corner of the goal. This would be the last goal of the game as the Cougars left the pitch with a 4-0 victory.
“Our defense has been so awesome tonight,” Flake said. “It was hard to even think of any good chances San Francisco had just because our defense shut them down. The best goals we’ve had have started with our defense.”
On Oct. 27, the Cougars took the field for the second time in just three days to take on nationally ranked No. 6 Santa Clara in a game that would later crown the Cougars as the West Coast Conference (WCC) champions.
It took just 14 minutes for the Cougars’ offense to find the back of the net. Mikayla Colohan intercepted a kick from the Broncos’ keeper before firing a shot into the upper 90 of the goal.
The Cougars would take the lead into the locker room, leading 1-0 at halftime. BYU finished the first half with eight shots, while the Broncos had just four.
BYU doubled their lead in the 53rd minute on a Rachel Bingham Lyman shot intended to be a cross. Her high cross-pass came from yards outside the box and found the top corner of the goal.
The Broncos had a key opportunity in the 55th minute as BYU committed a foul inside their box, creating a golden opportunity for No. 6 Santa Clara as a penalty kick ensued. Davis dove towards the left post, making the stop on the penalty kick.
Davis was named West Coast Conference Player of the Week on Oct. 29. Davis had four saves in goal against the Dons and another four saves against the Broncos. Her saves total 45 this season for a .763 save percentage. Davis joins the ranks of this honor after teammate Elise Flake was named Player of the Week on Oct. 1.
The two Cougars’ goals would prove to be enough as they came away with the 2-0 victory. This victory would seal the deal of the WCC as BYU was named the outright victors of the conference with the win. This would give the women’s soccer team their sixth WCC title in the last seven years.
In addition to the WCC title, the Cougars claimed an automatic NCAA tournament bid with the win. This will be the sixth time in the last seven years BYU has made the tournament. The Cougars’ best final result over those seven years was an Elite 8 finish back in 2012.