BYU Women’s Soccer team drew 1-1 with the Argentina Women’s National Team on Thursday night in a friendly match played at South Field.
La Albiceleste, who defeated Utah Valley 3-1 in a friendly on Tuesday, played in their famous sky blue and white striped kits in their second match of their Utah visit in front of a packed crowd at South Field. They were well supported by locals and return missionaries sporting their Messi jerseys in an exciting, standing room only atmosphere. The Argentina WNT is no soccer power, as they will compete this summer in their first World Cup since 2007, when they went winless in three matches, scoring just one goal while conceding 18. They have only competed in two World Cups previously and are ranked 37th in the latest FIFA rankings, which were released on March 29. In fact, the disparity between the FIFA top 10 and others is so great, that several NCAA soccer powers would likely be ranked in the top 25. However, the support for the team was significant in the energized crowd, which encouraged the team throughout.
The Cougars opened up strong, controlling possession and creating opportunities in the Argentine defensive third and penalty area. The Cougars took shots in and around the 18-yard box, and Elise Flake and Cameron Tucker created issues for the Argentine back line. However, the Cougars were unable to capitalize on their chances, and the score remained 0-0.
The Argentines would settle into the match, led by midfielder Mariana Larroquette and winger Yamila Rodriguez. The Argentines created several chances, and Larroquette found the opening goal in the 35th minute. Larroquette rose above the Cougars’ backline on a cross from defender Eliana Stabile to head the ball into the net from seven yards out. BYU goalkeeper Sabrina Davis extended to save the shot, but the ball passed her fingertips into the far-post side netting.
The Cougars and Argentines would slow the match down heading into halftime, and the Argentines held a 1-0 advantage over the Cougars at the intermission.
The Cougars opened the second half strong, and owned possession early. The Cougars efforts and pressure paid off, as they found an equalizer in the 52nd minute. Ashton Brockbank intercepted a pass at the mid-line and pushed the ball wide to Ellie Maughan, who sent the ball into the box. The ball dropped to Flake, who pushed the ball into the six yard box, drawing Argentina’s GK Vanina Correa out of goal. With Correa out of position, Flake played a ball back to a waiting Ashton Brockbank 16 yards out, who played a one touch shot to the far post to equalize.
The Cougars and Argentines would create more chances in the second half, with the best chances coming for the Argentines. Heroics from BYU goalkeeper Cassidy Smith kept the match at 1-1, and the Cougars would hold on to draw.
Unfortunately, the match wasn’t a complete friendly, as the match got chippy in the 74th minute between BYU’s Ella Ballstaedt and Argentina’s Laroquette. Shortly before a throw in, Ballstaedt and Laroquette began shoving before the referee blew his whistle to stop them. However, Ballstaedt gave Laroquette a few yards on the throw in, only to plow through Laroquette as soon as she received the ball, raising her elbow high into the upper back of Laroquette. Ballstaedt walked away immediately after initially receiving a yellow card for the tackle, but Laroquette responded by shoving Ballstaedt in the back before pulling her hair. Both players were issued a red card and sent off after the referee spoke with his assistant.
BYU Coach Jennifer Rockwood spoke with Ballstaedt before she left the stadium, appearing very serious and intent on correcting the issue. No comment was made available to the public concerning the matter.
The Cougars were otherwise impressive on the evening, showing strong against an opponent who may have intimated them as a national team. The Cougars only graduated one senior from the 2018 season and had one player leave on a mission. The Cougars return nine starters, and will look to continue on their WCC Championship last fall, which came in what many considered to be a rebuilding season.
The Cougars spring schedule continues on Saturday in Salt Lake City, as the Cougars will face rivals Utah. The match begins at 6 pm.