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BYU Women's Soccer Recap: Cougars beat Utah Valley Wolverines 1-0 in NCAA Tournament 1st round

BYU Photo/Meagan Larsen

On a weekend that matched the BYU Cougars and the Utah Valley University Wolverines athletic programs in three different sports, the women's soccer teams met up in the most important game of the weekend. Playing at South Field in the first round of the NCAA Women's Soccer tournament left the winner to continue on and the loser to end their season. For the Wolverines it was their first visit to the tournament while the Cougars were making their 17th. The game was set to be interesting from the get go as the Cougars put the WCC offensive player of the year in Nadia Gomes up against the WAC defensive player of the year in goalkeeper Jessica Duffin. To add even more excitement to the game the Cougars announced that their star player Ashley Hatch would return to the field after missing eight weeks due to injury.

The game began with the teams feeling each other out, and neither team finding a significant advantage. BYU had a couple corner kicks early but couldn't capitalize and possession remained even through the early minutes. Although the officials let the teams play physical, both teams struggled to make crisp passes and turnovers mounted. As BYU took an aggressive approach to the game the offsides penalties hurt the Cougars as three were called in the first 20 minutes.

BYU would finally take control in the 21st minute and a beautiful pass from Gomes to Elena Medeiros led to the ball slipping past Duffin into the left corner of the net and the first goal of the game. With a 1-0 lead the Cougars continued to push but couldn't find the back of the net. Both teams had shots and chances but the defenses held strong as the first half wound down. The best chance for the Wolverines came in the 27th minute as Paige Hunt was called for a take down just outside the box giving UVU a chance at a set kick. The Cougars defense rose up to the challenge and defended the kick and cleared the ball. The Cougars had one more chance at the end of the half as Medeiros took a pass from Hatch but the ball sailed just left of the net. As the half closed with a 1-0 lead for the Cougars, the Wolverines looked poised and eager to take on the second half challenge.

The second half started with BYU being the aggressor as they earned two corner kicks in the first minute. Neither team could really make a run through most of the second half but chances were missed by both teams. Early in the second half the Cougars lost one of their defenders, Sarah Chambers Gardner to an apparent knee injury. However she would return in the 82nd minute. With only minutes left in the match the Cougars took another blow when Medeiros went out with another apparent knee injury. The Cougars continued to keep the ball on the Wolverines side of the field as they looked to score the goal that would put the game out of reach. As the clock wound down the Cougars began to play keep away in the corner and prevented any type of run for the Wolverines as the game ended with a Cougars 1-0 win.

The Cougars will next travel to take on the Stanford Cardinal in Palo Alto in a rematch from earlier in the year. That game ended in the 1-0 loss, the first loss of the year for the Cougars.