On a cold night in Provo, the No. 1-ranked BYU women’s soccer team finally cracked the code to Utah State.
Cougar Awards? Beating the Aggies and advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
BYU scored a goal in each period to defeat Utah State 2-0 on Friday at Southfield. The win was the Cougars’ first over the Aggies in their last four games and avenged their 1-0 loss in Logan two months ago.
“We felt like it was tough to play against a team like Utah State … as a No. 1 seed,” BYU head coach Jennifer Rockwood said. “They gave us a good run in that. Proud of those girls, proud of our senior team, proud of this team that came out the way they did and really dominated most of the game.”
Kendel Petersen gave the Cougars an early lead with a pinpoint goal in the 10th minute after he took a pass 30 yards to the left of the goal and past an Aggie defender.
Utah State goalkeeper Dera Walton barely had a ball width between her and the post, but that’s where Petersen sent a laser-precise, low shot, sneaking it under Walton and into the net.
The goal was Petersen’s second this season and the fourth in her career.
“I just saw the space, so I touched it wide,” Petersen said. “Jane told me I needed to keep my shots low, so I tried to keep them low. She seemed to know what she was talking about.
“I think it gave us a good chance to calm down once we scored the first goal. We were able to keep the ball, stay relaxed, and not panic.”
The Cougars boasted the nation’s top offense, outscoring USU 28-7 and holding a 12-1 edge on corner kicks.
BYU freshman goalie Lynette Hernaiz made three saves in the shutout.
On Utah State’s opposite goal, Walton, a fifth-year and All-Mountain West Conference first-team player, made a great play with a number of diving saves from close range to give Utah State a chance.
“Dera is a trooper,” Utah State coach Manny Martinez said. “Both times we were here with her, two years ago and today, she was the best player on the field.
“I don’t want to take any credit away from the opposing players, but she was amazing today. If it wasn’t for her, today the game would have gotten away from us early. She will forever be a legend on our campus.”
However, the Cougars effectively put the game away with their second goal in the 73rd minute when Olivia Wade-Katoa found herself alone at the top of the box after a pass from Ellie Boren and sent a top-shelf rocket under the crossbar for the team. Her eleventh goal this year.
“I think we came into this game with a big tap on our shoulder knowing they beat us in the regular season,” Wade Katoa said.
“This is something we’ve been working on all week, just getting ready for this game and knowing what they’re probably going to show us.”
BYU has now won its last five first-round NCAA Tournament games and improves to 17-2-3 on the year. As the No. 1 seed, the Cougars will host their second round game against No. 8 seed USC next Thursday at 7 PM EST in Southfield.
With the loss, Utah State finished the year 14-8-1, finished second at 9-2 in the Mountain West regular season but captured the first-ever MW tournament title in program history.
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