On a beautiful summer night at South Field the BYU Cougars looked to notch their first win of the season as they hosted FC Tucson in a PDL Divisional game. The Cougars have been unable to put together a full 90 minutes but they came out strong on Friday night. The Cougars defense in the box was spectacular throughout the first half but the time the Cougars spent on their own half of the field was concerning. BYU took the first shot on goal in the 6th minute but Keegan Rogers stayed in front, as the goalkeeper did for a number of shots.
The teams traded shots and possession until FC Tucson decided to play a bit more aggressive. With the aggressive play the ball stayed on the Cougars half of the field but a few Tucson defensive mistakes led to quality Cougar possessions. In the 17th minute the Cougars hit pay dirt as Winston Sorhaitz slipped down the left side of the field and, using a spot on pass from Pedro Vasconcelos, slipped past Rogers and eased the ball into the net. With the 1-0 lead the Cougars didn't slow down and the Cougars stunned Tucson with a quick pass from Junior Lartey to Vasconcelos, again on the left side, that was once again put past Rogers and into the net for a 2-0 lead. Both teams had additional chances to score but the keepers buckled down and made the necessary plays to keep the score 2-0 heading to the locker room.
Once again the aggressive play led to penalties on both side and after the halftime whistle an assistant coach for Tucson was dismissed from the game for arguing. The Cougars allowed Tucson 10 shots in the first half while the Cougars had five.
Both teams came out of the locker room determined to leave with a win but the first mistake belonged to the Cougars defense. With the ball just outside the box the Cougars received a penalty for a slide tackle from behind by Dallin Cutler. Along with the penalty kick came a yellow card for Cutler. Tucson took full advantage of the free kick as they lofted it over the defenders and into the left side of the net, just outside the reach of Brenden Ottman. The intensity of the game continued to pick up and, after a hard foul on the Cougars, tempers flared and Pedro Espindola was ejected and given a red card for retaliation.
With Tucson down a man the Cougars had a chance to put the team away but in the 58th minute a cross pass to Devante Dubose led to a goal that once again was just out of reach of Ottman. With the score tied 2-2 the Cougars were back on their heels and losing ground. In the 61st minute Tucson earned another yellow card, which promptly led to a yellow on the Cougars. At this point the official appeared to be handing yellow cards out like candy on Halloween night, and an even tighter called game.
After the slew of warning the teams calmed down and the Cougars played a more patient brand of offense, earning the Cougars a few more shots but the offense was unable to capitalize. Once again a penalty near the goal gave Tucson a chance to take the lead but a high deflection by Ottman led to the ball sailing over the net for Tucson. With the ball staying on the Cougars half of the field the mistakes, and penalties, began to mount for the Cougars defense but they did just enough to keep the ball out of the net.
After another round of warnings Tucson had a golden opportunity to take the lead but the kick sailed just right of the net after passing Ottman. Once again regulation ended with the score tied but four minutes of stoppage time gave both teams a chance. With limited time remaining the Cougars took an aggressive approach on offense and had a number of shot attempts but nothing would stick before time ran out, ending the game in a 2-2- draw.
Once again Coach Chris Watkins was pleased with the effort the Cougars displayed but frustrated with the inability to create scoring opportunities, especially with Tucson being a man down. When asked if the lost lead caused the team to lose confidence Watkins said "not a loss of confidence, it is more like they are mad." With the team still looking for their first win the Cougars need to channel this emotion into the game tomorrow. The same two teams will play tomorrow at South Field at 7:30 so don't miss any of the action action here with VTF.