No. 24 BYU women’s soccer takes down No. 25 USC in front of frenzied freshman crowd
The hordes of new BYU freshmen may have arrived late to the game, but they arrived just in time to see No. 24 BYU women’s soccer defeat the No. 25-ranked Trojans of USC 2-1 at South Field on Thursday.
“It was phenomenal,” head coach Jennifer Rockwood said of the 5,347 strong in attendance. Sophomore and star of the game Brecken Mozingo said the energy of the crowd “radiates” into the team and helps motivate them.
Freshmen were allowed into the game for free with their New Student Orientation wristband and they came in droves after halftime, filling the stands behind the goals and nearly every inch of the sideline.
Mozingo didn’t wait long to get going in what Rockwood called a “breakout game” for her. She took advantage of a counterattack chance created by freshman Olivia Smith to find the back of the net with a left-footed shot in the 13th minute.
“Score first, score early and score again” is the team’s motto according to Mozingo. The Sandy native transferred to BYU from UCLA and seemed to be on a personal vendetta against her former in-city rival with three shots, a goal and an assist in the first half.
BYU was awarded a penalty kick late in the first half but Mikayla Colohan’s shot was saved by USC keeper Anna Smith to keep the lead at 1-0.
Mozingo’s assist came on a free kick that Bella Folino headed into the goal in the final five minutes of the first half, putting the Cougars up 2-0 at the break.
When the second half began the stands at South Field were completely full, with fans spilling into standing-room-only areas along the sidelines.
It was a chippy affair to start the second half, with five fouls given in the first five minutes. Smith received a yellow card in the 69th minute after a controversial no-call in the BYU penalty box and Natalee Wells was given yet another BYU yellow in the 71st minute.
Rockwood pleaded with the team to calm the game down after a rocky few minutes in the Cougars’ defensive third. The continued chaos in front of BYU’s goal eventually resulted in a penalty kick off of a Cougar handball. USC converted the chance to narrow the gap to 2-1 with seven minutes remaining.
The Cougar defense held strong, however, and the crowd erupted as time expired, giving many BYU students their first glimpse of victory in Provo.
“We’re dogs,” Mozingo said after the win. “We don’t want a repeat of last year. We want to keep getting better and keep it rolling.”
The Cougars travel over the weekend to take on Arkansas on Monday, Aug. 30, followed by a return to Provo on Sept. 2 against Marquette. Rockwood says “the games just keep getting harder,” as the team tries to make a statement ahead of the start of West Coast Conference play in October.