SOUTH FIELD -- PROVO, UTAH -- On a pleasant Thursday evening, the BYU Cougars welcomed the Albuquerque Sol to South Field. Entering the night, the Sol stood atop the Western Conference, Mountain division of the PDL with a record of 4-1-1 while the Cougars were at the bottom of the division with a record of 0-2-4.
The first half saw the Cougars trying to challenge down the right with pacy winger and new addition Jacob Ence. Ence, who was at Salem Hills High School a couple weeks ago, was able to generate a tremendous opportunity in the 7th minute after making a great run, his shot was saved by Albuquerque goalkeeper Lucas Champenois face, while the rebound was pounced upon by BYU striker Jace Green, the Sol-keeper was able to recover and catch the strike. This would signal the beginning of several saves by Champenois.
The first goal of the match was scored by the division leaders. Midfielder Ronaldo Teixeira strongly held the ball as he broke through two tackles to slide a classy through ball to the feet of winger Sam Gleadle who slotted the ball past BYU goalie into the bottom left corner. Albuquerque Sol 1-0.
The Cougars continued to find threatening opportunities through nicely executed set pieces, one of which lead to a called hand ball on the Sol's Sam Gleadle in the penalty box. Perhaps the referee decision was a bit harsh, and the club from Albuquerque had reason to feel unlucky, regardless the Cougars were awarded a penalty kick in the final minute before the half. The Cougars' Jace Green capitalized on the opportunity equalizing the scoreboard as the teams made they way back to the locker rooms to regroup.
The 2nd half saw the pressure ramped up the the Sol. BYU goalkeeper Brenden Ottman was equal to the strike from Gleadle and a header from Teixeira. Eventually the sustained pressure on the Cougars keeper resulted in a Carlos Senden header scored on a free kick served by Manuel Campos.
BYU Head Coach Chris Watkins explained why they were being pressured, "Our pressure on the ball was just a little bit slow. The rotations out to make sure they don't get the ball in a comfortable way were just a half second late. So they were able to look up and see the whole field causing us to stand back and be a little unsure."
The organized attack of the Sol continued to shine as another goal was scored easily by Sol substitute Ricardo Zacarius to extend the lead to 3-1 in the 68th minute.
The Cougars found their way back as Ariel Chavez played a ball onto substitute winger Garrett Gee who scored to narrow the score to 3-2. Leading to an exciting final 10 minutes at South Field.
The Sol held on to claim the 3-2 victory over the Cougars and improve their division leading record to 5-1-1. The Cougars record now stands at 0-3-4.
BYU Head Coach Chris Watkins had this to say about the Cougars trouble getting in the win column, "I know it sounds crazy -- we haven't won a PDL game -- but I'm really proud of my guys. Call me crazy, but if you would have seen us in February, March, and April, you would've thought we were going 0-16. That's no exaggeration. We are competing and we'll get a result soon."
While the Cougars come out on the wrong side of this match up, Coach Watkins, rightly, has reason to be optimistic.
The Cougars will have some time off as their next game is in eight days against FC Tucson. The game will be Friday the 19th at 7:30 pm at South Field.