PROVO Utah figured it was just the team to end BYU's unbeaten start to the season. In front of 3,386 fans at South Field on Saturday, the Utes became the first team this season to take a lead on the Cougars, then the first team to beat them.
Melissa Crespo scored her first goal of the season in the 60th minute to win the game. It was Utah's only shot on target in the entire match, but it was all it needed.
That goal also gave the Utes' their first Mountain West Conference win of the season. Coming on the road against its biggest conference contender, the result has put Utah in a nice position going forward in league play.
"The fact that both teams are really good means it's sweeter for the victor," said Utah coach Rich Manning. "It takes some of the pressure off the next few games."
BYU's struggles to score consistently this season resurfaced, especially after the Utes took the second-half lead. The Cougars had twice the number of shots but couldn't finish. Manning pointed to his defense in the center of the field and the play of goalkeeper Lynzee Lee as being key in getting the shutout.
"I was really proud of our defense," he said. "We've had trouble all year. I thought Crespo, Amanda Sanchez and Kylie (Jones) our center backs, as well as our goalkeeper those four were terrific tonight."
Utah's goal came after a good spell of passing set up a corner kick. Katy Reineke took the kick and sailed the ball to the far post where Crespo dove and headed it in.
"It always feels good to beat them," said Crespo. "We always want to win conference, and we have to get through BYU to do that, so it's always nice to come out with a win."
Facing a deficit for the first time this year, the Cougars struggled to recover and find their rhythm. They poured on the pressure late in the half and had a couple of half chances, but didn't really test Lee.
"Sometimes these big games come down to one shot, and tonight it did," said BYU coach Jennifer Rockwood. "I think when they scored the goal there was certainly a letdown. I still thought we'd have a chance to get the tying one. We still had plenty of opportunities. We have to do better with some of those close opportunities."
Utah is back at home against Air Force next Thursday, while BYU will go on the road to San Diego State.