BYU women’s soccer triumphs against UCF with four first half goals, advancing to the Big 12 championship game

No. 2 BYU women’s soccer defeated No. 6 UCF 4-0 Wednesday at Mike A. Myers Stadium Austin, Texas, scoring all four goals in the first half to advance to the program’s first Big 12 title game.

The game started off much like the last match against UCF. The Cougars held possession of the ball and sent well connecting passes from the midfielders to the forwards creating multiple shots on goal. BYU’s forwards put lots of pressure on the Knights defenders with two shots and three corner kicks during the first 10 minutes of the game.

Nevertheless, UCF put up a fight against the Cougars. In the 20th minute of the game, UCF made a run down the center of the field and fired a shot to the bottom left corner of the goal, making freshman keeper Lynette Hernaez dive to successfully block the shot.

Just eight minutes after the Knights attempted a shot on goal, sophomore defender Olivia Smith-Griffiths broke free of UCF’s defenders down the right side of the field and crossed the ball to the center in front of the box. Senior Olivia Wade-Katoa met Griffiths pass with an impressive one-touch chip over the Knights keeper putting the Cougars up, 1-0 in the 28th minute.

The BYU Cougars continued to hold possession of the ball, dominating on UCF’s side of the field. Just six minutes after Wade-Katoa’s goal, senior Brecken Mozingo gained possession of the ball. She out dribbled two UCF defenders making a pass at the 18-yard box to Wade Katoa who in turn beat her defender with a shot across her body making the score 2-0 in favor of the Cougars.

With two goals within six minutes of each other, BYU continues to press on UCF’s defense by taking more shots on goal. In the 39th minute Jacobs sent a ball up the right side of the field to find Mozingo, who then shot with her signature left foot, sending the ball to the bottom left of the goal making the third goal of the night.

Five minutes later during the 44th minute of the game, BYU’s Cougars made themselves another opportunity to score. Bailey split two of the Knights defenders with a solid pass to McCarthy. McCarthy then crossed the ball from the left side of the field over UCF’s keepers hands to Walbruch who heads the ball to the bottom left of the goal. At halftime the BYU Cougars were up 4-0 having outshot the Knights 14-4, with five of those shots on frame, and six corner kicks compared to UCF’s two.

The starting BYU players continued to play this way for the second half. Starting strong they continued to pressure UCF’s backline and were always on the Knights backs when they attempted to make connecting passes. Due to the early success of the game, some of the younger players were able to play during the second half.

UCF kept BYU on their toes by continuing to keep up the pressure and makings shots and corner kicks. In the 79th minute of the game, a handball on BYU allowed UCF to take a penalty kick by Bradley, making the score 4-1. During the final minutes of the game the BYU Cougars continued to play their game of aggressive offense resulting in advancing to the championship game.

“It means a lot to make it to the championship match our first year in the tournament,” coach Jennifer Rockwood said. “It says a lot about these girls and our seniors leading this group. We played a phenomenal first half, and got to get a lot of our younger girls into the game in the second half, so it was an overall great performance tonight.”

Because of the four goals, BYU women’s soccer now has five players who have scored 10 goals each: Wade-Katoa, Mozingo, Walbruch, Erin Bailey, and Allie Fryer.

The Cougars are now set to play in the Big 12 championship game against Texas on Saturday at 6 p.m.

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