Time to chop some trees: 6 seed BYU women’s soccer faces Stanford in NCAA tournament second round

BYU is now one step closer to returning to the NCAA College Cup.

After beating crosstown rival UVU 3-0 last week in the first round of the NCAA tournament, the Cougars move on to meet the Champions of the Pac-12, Stanford, in the second round at Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The win over UVU was a great start to the tournament for BYU and gave the Cougars a boost as they advance.

“After that game it gave us a ton of confidence to keep doing what we are doing. The things we’ve been working on have been keeping a shutout and scoring first with high energy,” WCC Defender of the Year Laveni Vaka said. “That game gave us the confirmation that what we’re doing and building on is working for us.”

The road to the NCAA College Cup will only get more difficult from here as BYU now shifts its focus to a Cardinal team that is unbeaten in its last 11 matches and has put up six shutouts in their last seven matches. The Cardinal also put together an impressive 6-0 win over San Jose State in the first round of the tournament. In a game that could quickly turn into a shootout, BYU will lean on its defense to be the key in stopping Stanford from doing what it does best.

“Staying connected as a back line and winning our individual battles, 1v1 battles, because we know they are an offensive team,” Vaka said. “But they haven’t gone against a team with a good defensive line like ours and what we’re good at right now is staying connected and providing those covers and so that what we’re going to stick to this next game.”

BYU is 3-7-0 all time against Stanford and has lost five straight to the Cardinal. The Cougars are also 2-3-0 in the tournament versus Stanford with their last match being a 5-1 loss in 2019. BYU ranks first nationally in shots per game (26.05) with Stanford being right behind them at second (23.10). With both teams pretty evenly matched, playing at a neutral site should play a big role in this game.

“Anytime we get a game at south field, it’s amazing. We have a great fan base, but a neutral field is also going to be key for us playing Stanford because we have the upper hand,” forward Bella Folino expressed. “We played at North Carolina a couple months ago so we know how it plays there, and I think that will play into our favor.”

BYU’s match against Stanford will kick off Thursday at 1 p.m. MDT. Fans can listen to the game live on BYU Radio or watch live on ESPN+.

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