PROVO For the second Mountain West Conference tournament match in as many days, the BYU women's soccer team is scoring goals yes, that's plural and winning matches and enjoying this postseason success thing of late.
Wednesday afternoon, it was a 2-0 quarterfinal victory over TCU at South Field. And 24 hours later, the 23rd-ranked and tourney No. 3 seed Cougars improved to 15-3-4 overall with another 2-0 win in the semifinals over second-seeded San Diego State (6-12-3), avenging a loss to the Aztecs last month by the same score.
That puts BYU into Saturday's 1 p.m. championship finale against top-seed and regular-season champion UNLV, a team that beat the Cougars just last weekend to clinch the crown.
"It's kinda like our revenge tournament," said BYU senior defender Jessica Harmon Carter, part of the stingy Cougar defense that has posted back-to-back shutouts this week in tournament play and has been joined by an offense that has finally overcome its late-season scoring drought.
"They're finally falling for us, so we're excited," Carter said. "We've been unlucky scoring-wise, but we've kept pushing at it, and now they're going in."
Thursday against the Aztecs, senior forward Katie Larkin and freshman forward Kassidy Christensen combined for the Cougars' two goals both coming in the second half, both scored by Larkin and both assisted by Christensen.
The first came in the 53rd minute, with Christensen dribbling up the left sideline and tapping a soft, short cross inside to Larkin, who connected from about 20 yards out on the left angle, going far past SDSU keeper Aubree Southwick.
The second came less than six minutes later, as Christensen's try ricocheted around in front of the goal and right in front of Larkin, who buried it from a dozen yards out.
The goals were Larkin's 14th and 15th of the season, with 12 game-winners.
"Katie's more confident in her role as a goal-scorer this year," said BYU coach Jennifer Rockwood. "And Kassidy has really stepped it up. She's given us a spark she's so aggressive."
Rockwood said the chance to avenge regular-season losses in the semis and finals the 2-0 loss at SDSU last month and the 1-0 double-overtime heartbreaker last weekend in Las Vegas isn't lost on her Cougars.
"When you give up two goals (to the Aztecs), which for us is uncharacteristic, the guys really wanted another opportunity to play them," said Rockwood. "And I know how anxious they are to play UNLV, too."Cougar goalkeeper Erika Woodbury made two saves and logged her 13th shutout of the year, breaking her own BYU season record set last season.
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