Fifth-ranked BYU Women’s Soccer beat UC Irvine in their non-conference finale, outscoring the Anteaters in an exciting 4-2 match.
The match didn’t open well for the Cougars, who conceded a corner in the 2nd minute. Kyndal McKinney finished a header from the center of the penalty area to give the Anteaters a surprising 1-0 lead. This was the first time the Cougars trailed all season, and they appeared somewhat surprised by it.
The Cougars quickly refocused however, and began to dominate possession in the Anteater half. After several shots went wide and over for the Cougars, they finally found the equalizer in the 38th minute. Rachel Bingham brought the ball down the right side of the field and sent in a driven cross. Jamie Shepherd connected on the end of it, but was immediately brought down in the box. Rather than giving a penalty, the referee wisely allowed play to continue for advantage as Mikayla Colohan finished Shepherd’s touch, punching it in past Anteater goalkeeper Maddie Newsom.
BYU would open strong in the second half, and the match would turn chippy. The Anteaters had four players booked in the half, three of which came in a three minute spell.
BYU would finally take the lead in the 68th minute, when a BYU cross was deflected off the hand of a UC Irvine player in the penalty area. Elise Flake stepped up and clinically finished the penalty, giving BYU their first lead of the match.
BYU would extend just a few minutes later, with Colohan securing a brace in the 75th minute. BYU won a set piece ten yards past the mid-line. Alyssa Jefferson played a floating ball into the box, which Colohan flicked on into the Anteater goal.
However, the Anteaters wouldn’t give up easily, and found a second goal in the 81st minute. Forward Jessica Miclat struck the ball into the far post from a tight angle to make things interesting.
But less than two minutes later, Freshman Rachel McCarthy brought the ball down the field a struck a screamer from outside the penalty area into the top bins, giving the Cougars a 4-2 lead in the 83rd minute.
The match was not yet over, as poor defending in the BYU penalty area provided UCI with a penalty in the same 83rd minute. The Cougars were fortunate as Miclat hit the penalty off the post and watched it roll across the face of goal without being finished.
The Cougars were far from perfect again, but stepped up when it was needed to finish off the Anteaters. The win moves BYU to 10-0 on the season, the first 10-0 start to a season since 1997. The Cougars are also the lone NCAA D1 team to have won every match. The Cougars have outscored their opponents 29-3 in their ten non-conference matches.
BYU will face perhaps its toughest two tests yet, travelling to Santa Clara on Saturday. Santa Clara is the WCC Preseason co-favorite, but hasn’t had the season they had hoped for. The Broncos sit at 5-5 on the season, but those five losses have come to teams ranked in the Top 25 or teams receiving votes. #14 Texas A&M (who BYU did beat), Wake Forest(receiving votes), #10 Duke, Cal(receiving votes), and #2 Stanford. The Cougars will need to be ready for the match-up, as it is an early conference title race match.
The following Wednesday BYU will host Pepperdine, who boasts is 4-4-2 but has also faced a tough schedule. With a big win over #2 Stanford and a draw with #7 UCLA, Pepperdine is not to be overlooked. The Cougars lone conference loss in 2018 came away to the Waves.