PROVO Even with one less teammate on the field, the Brigham Young University women's soccer team pulled together scoring the game's only goal and clinching a 1-0 victory over Arizona Monday.
Sophomore Becca Riddle received a red card with just under 25 minutes left in the game, ensuring that the Cougars would be down a player for the remainder of the game.
"I was really proud of the girls, they really came out strong after we lost a player," BYU head coach Jennifer Rockwood said. "That is difficult to do. It is difficult enough against a team like Arizona but then to have to play a man down we really dug in there and found the energy."
As the Cougars' energy picked up, they started to create some opportunities on the offensive end. In the 78th minute freshman Lauren Anderson took a pass and pushed it closer to the end-line on the right side of the goal and attempted to cross the ball, but the initial attempt was blocked by a Wildcat defender. The rebound bounced right back to Anderson, and she fired a perfect cross to Kassidy Christensen, who headed the ball into the back of the net to put BYU on top.
"At halftime we were talking about getting to the end-line more, and (Anderson) did a good job of doing what the coaches told us to do," Christensen said. "I just knew to be there because that is what we want to try to do."
Up until that point the game had been a near dead-lock as both teams were competitive and controlled the ball well. In the first half the Cougars fired six shots, which required five saves by Arizona's Chelsea McIntyre in the goal.
"We had some early opportunities to put the ball in the net, but we fell a little short and then it became a back-and-forth game," said Rockwood. "Arizona is a very good team, a well-coached team. and they have some fantastic athletes."
Rockwood said she felt the team wasn't playing up to the level they can play in the first half. and she challenged them to pick up the pace. Both teams seemed to do that in the second half, which got extremely physical.
After the Cougars scored the go-ahead goal, Arizona poured it on as they attacked the goal, forcing several great plays from defenders and freshman goalkeeper McKinzie Olson. Arizona almost notched up the game with just over three minutes remaining when forward London King received a pass on the left wing of the Cougar defense but was called for offsides as she kicked the ball into the open net.
Rockwood was happy with the play of midfielder Kelsea Kakadelas as well as her talented defensive squad, which seems to be a huge strength of this year's team."I think our back four had their hands full, and they did a really nice job," she said. "That is what we are going to face each and every game. We are going to face teams who have talented players, who are as athletic and fast as we are. So it is going to be a battle."