PROVO — It's a moment senior Carlee Payne Holmoe says will always stay with her. With just 44 seconds remaining Thursday night at South Field, the veteran forward found the back of the net on a penalty kick to give BYU a 1-0 win over Auburn and send the Cougars to the Sweet 16.
“I had tears of joy and all of my teammates were just so happy that we won — or had just 40 seconds until we won,” Payne-Holmoe said. “That’s definitely a moment in my career that I’ll never forget.”
It was a goal that was a long time coming. The Cougars provided a consistent offensive barrage throughout the game, especially in the second half. BYU outshot the Tigers by an 11-2 margin in the final 45 minutes but had nothing to show for it — until Payne Holmoe’s winning goal.
“We were just six inches to a foot off stride and in the second half that continued,” said coach Jennifer Rockwood. “We didn’t get as many shots off as we typically do, but the balls we were serving across the face of the goal were so dangerous. The girls didn’t get frustrated and continued to battle.”
Auburn was regarded as a top defensive team heading into the game and proved as much — throwing back everything BYU tossed its way until the waning moments. At the end it was just a stroke of bad luck that ultimately did the Tigers in.
With BYU advancing the ball Auburn's Bianca Sierra ran into Michele Murphy on a cross and was whistled for a penalty inside the box.
“The poor kid is crushed because of what she did, but I told her that we’re not even here without you,” said Auburn coach Karen Hoppa. “That game isn’t 0-0 without you, so you can’t hang your head. It was just an unlucky play and she certainly wasn’t trying to foul her.”
The penalty gave Payne Holmoe her moment to shine and fortunately for BYU it was a moment she had prepared for.
“During the summer I had practiced PKs (penalty kicks) almost every day,” Payne-Holmoe said. “Through practices I still practiced them knowing that I was going to have at least one or two opportunities in the season to take it and put it away. I never expected it to come down to the 40th second or whatever it was, but all the practice paid off.”
Despite all the practice reps she had taken, Payne Holmoe admitted to feeling understandably nervous about the situation.
“Right when (the official) called it a PK I was very excited, but then all of the sudden I was so nervous because I knew it was me,” she said. “When they put the ball down I had tingles in my fingers and I was nervous knowing what was on the line, but I’ve practiced a lot and I felt confident that I could kick it where I wanted to.”
Payne Holmoe kicked it to the lower-left corner of the net — exactly where she was aiming. The team went on to hold on for the last 44 seconds with the crowd rushing the field at the conclusion.
BYU advances with the victory and will next take on Marquette in the single-elimination NCAA tournament's third round. The game will kick off in Provo at 5 p.m. this Saturday.