PROVO — The BYU men’s soccer team returned to South Field after a two-game road trip last week in which the Cougars won once and lost once. That loss was a tough 6-0 setback against the University of Washington, and the Cougars were hoping that the familiar field conditions would help get them back in the win column. A crowd of a few hundred braved the cold weather and rain to support the Cougars as they got the 2-0 victory against the visiting Colorado Mesa University squad.
After the opening kick off, the Cougars took the game right to CMU. Using a passing centric scheme, the Cougars were immediately on the attack. The Mavericks weathered the initial storm and both teams settled down after the first five minutes. The Cougars quickly took control of the game in the thirteenth minute, as Junior Jace Green knocked a header past the Maverick defense for a 1-0 lead.
The Cougars continued to press for a second goal during the first half, but the defense tightened up after the goal was scored. When the Mavericks did have a chance to go on the offensive and pull a goal back, the Cougar defense was more than up to the task. Assistant coach Chad Sackett pointed out that this was a major part of the game plan for the Cougars.
“We worked on, when we get in trouble, knock it back,” Sackett said. “When they press (us), it’s been nice to lay it back like we worked on. Defensively, we just didn’t give them very many opportunities.”
The first half ended with the Cougars still holding the 1-0 lead. The rain let up just as the second half got underway, and again BYU quickly took the game to their opponent, looking to add another goal to their lead. That second goal came just five minutes after halftime as Green notched his second of the game on a beautiful shot that beat the diving Maverick keeper.
“We really wanted to do better after last weekend. When everyone is touching the ball, it makes more gaps. We just got it wide, and then cut it back in. I found a gap and slipped through,” Green said of his second goal.
Several more attacks were either stopped by the Maverick defense or shot wide of frame, and with twenty minutes left in the game, the Cougar coaching staff started to substitute the starters out of the game so that the reserves could get some more game time. “Our reserves haven’t produced as we would like so far this season,” head coach Chris Watkins said. “(But) we’re better this year. We’ve played some tough teams.”
Watkins reiterated that he wanted his team to keep possession and spread the ball around, but even with how the Cougars played, he wasn’t completely sure about the plan. “We wanted to spread it out, with our backs out wide. But I was nervous against a team (like CMU) that is capable of beating you. We did only give up one good look really.”
Green also complimented the defense. “Our fullbacks did a fantastic job tonight,” he said.
According to the stats that BYU kept for the game, the Cougars completed 419 of a possible 618 passes on the night, for 68 percent. “We’ve noticed that when we complete more than 390 passes, we usually win or draw. That is a trend,” Watkins said after the game. “We also strive for at least 70 percent pass completion, and tonight we finished at 68 percent. The guys like to have other goals to work towards during the course of a game, besides just scoring goals.”
Landon Walters is a history and political science major at Salt Lake Community College. He is an avid sports fan and loves writing. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org