PROVO The combination of a new soccer stadium and a game between BYU and the Real Salt Lake Reserves brought the soccer fans out en masse Tuesday night.
Despite the enthusiastic, sold-out crowd and the festive environment surrounding the game, the Cougars lost 3-0 in the inaugural game at the new stadium at South Field.
The stadium sits on the south side of the field with a 2,140 seating capacity, although 3,110 fans watched the game Tuesday night. In addition, the lighting capacity is double what existed at the prior field.
"It's huge to have a men's soccer supporter pay for something like this," said BYU coach Chris Watkins. "To have brick and mortar out there means something to every soccer program in the country. Every program is fighting for something like this.
"We're incredibly grateful and fortunate to have something like this. And then to be full, and they had to turn away I don't know how many people, it was just an exciting night and a great way to kick off our new stadium."
Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis was pleased with his team's effort and the opportunity to be a part of this occasion.
"Any opportunity we get to come down and help out BYU, we'll take it," Kreis said. "They've helped us out a lot by giving us games and keeping some of our guys that don't play regularly pretty fresh. To have this now is another piece in the soccer community. It's a good thing and we're happy that we could help them."
In somewhat of a surprise, former RSL regular Clint Mathis didn't start, but played most of the game for the Reserves as a guest. Mathis is between teams and, because of his relationship with the team, was given the opportunity to play to help maintain his conditioning.
Real got enough for the win in the 30th minute when Robbie Findley controlled a loose ball at the top of the box and kicked it straight through the middle of the goal for the 1-0 lead.
Less than two minutes later, Findley capitalized on another opportunity, this time on a breakaway. He was one on one with the keeper and, after making a move at the top of the box that committed the keeper, he kicked it just inside the far post for the 2-0 advantage.
Quinney Varela scored the game's final goal on a breakaway in the 90th minute.
"I don't think we came out exactly fantastically," Kreis said. "But I do think we did some things very well. About 15 or 20 minutes in, I thought we really started playing well and, of course, Robbie scored a couple of nice goals and things kind of rolled from there."
The Cougars finish their regular season this Friday and Saturday with games against Vancouver and Abbotsford.