PROVO Any sizeable gusts of wind felt around Provo after 5 p.m. Wednesday came from collective sighs of relief emitted by the BYU women's soccer team as the Cougars scored not one but two goals and claimed their first postseason victory in four years in dispatching TCU, 2-0.
In the Mountain West Conference tournament quarterfinal played at South Field, Katie Larkin scored the game-winning goal on a header in the 66th minute, and Carolyn Swenson added an unassisted insurance goal, as the third-seeded Cougars (15-3-2) advanced past the No. 6 Horned Frogs (8-11-0) and will face No. 2 San Diego State (9-7-3) in today's 4 p.m. semifinal.
To put BYU's recent scoring challenges in perspective, team scoring leader Larkin hadn't found the back of the net since a 4-1 victory against TCU in the league opener four weeks ago, with the Cougars managing just five goals in six subsequent matches, including three shutout losses.
As for the postseason drought, the Cougars' senior class including starters Swenson, fellow midfielder Natalie Nate-Henrick and goalkeeper Erika Woodbury had never tasted postseason success at either the conference or NCAA tournament level.
"This is big for us," said Swenson. "We appreciate it. We weren't going to have it any other way.
Added Woodbury: "It's a relief we had never done it before, and there was a little bit of fear."
BYU coach Jennifer Rockwood noticed the fear after the Cougars dropped last weekend's finale at UNLV, costing them the regular-season championship.
"I think they were scared," she said. "We got it out in the open, and we talked about it."
After the win, even Rockwood was using the "R" word and admitting to some emotion.
"It's a tremendous sense of relief," she said, adding that when Larkin scored her goal, "I think I teared up a bit."
After 65 minutes of scoreless play, Swenson took the ball deep on the right side and fired a corner-type cross to Larkin, who headed the ball past TCU keeper Kelsey Walters.
Swenson scored with 94 seconds remaining, as Walters was playing well in helping the Frogs try for a tying goal. Swenson deflected Walters' attempt to clear, racing around the keeper to collect the ball and tap it into the net.
BYU outshot TCU 28-9, including 10-4 on-goal. Woodbury made three saves.BYU looks to avenge its 2-0 regular-season loss at San Diego State and advance to Saturday's 1 p.m. tournament championship.
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