The Cougars celebrate the penalty kick shootout victory at Santa Clara. (BYU Photo)

BYU women’s soccer survives shootout against Santa Clara, heads to national title game

It took all 90 minutes of regulation, two overtime periods and a full shootout, but BYU women’s soccer finished the fight against Santa Clara in the NCAA Final Four to continue its Cinderella run to the first national championship game in school history.

Brecken Mozingo, Bella Folina and Olivia Wade rallied to score three straight penalty kicks and conclude the marathon, dethroning the defending national champion Broncos in dramatic fashion.

The Cougars controlled the tempo for nearly the entirety of the contest and even outshot Santa Clara 26-13, but the Broncos continually smothered BYU with tight, physical defense that forced awkward shots all night.

“Defensively, Santa Clara took away a lot of things that we like to do,” BYU head coach Jen Rockwood said.

Shots flew off goalposts and crossbars, but points refused to surface even after 110 minutes of play. Throughout the stalemate, BYU goalkeeper Cassidy Smith played hero with seven saves and a clutch showing in the ultimate shootout, denying Santa Clara on every opportunity to steal the victory.

Mikayla Colohan and Jamie Shepherd missed BYU’s first two penalty kicks before Mozingo tied the shootout with a lefty hook into the corner of the net. Folina netted an attempt of her own before Santa Clara countered with its second make, leading to a do-or-die fifth frame to decide the matchup. Wade called game with a beautiful boot, followed by a complete shank from Santa Clara that missed wide right to punch BYU’s ticket to the national championship dance.

“The girls did their jobs,” Rockwood said. After an exhausting playoff battle, what more really needs to be said?

The Cougars head for the final test of their title chase Monday night against Florida State — the top team in the country — in a matchup rescheduled from Sunday in order to accommodate BYU’s school policy against Sunday play. For four-time All-American Colohan, 27-year coaching veteran Rockwood and the rest of the Cougars, history is at stake.

“They’re phenomenal,” Rockwood said of Florida State. “We’ll certainly have our hands full, but that’s all you can ask for: to play against the very best and have a chance on the biggest stage in college soccer. We’ll be ready for it.”

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