Two masterful second-half assists from Michele Murphy Vasconcelos gave No. 6 BYU women's soccer enough to beat Long Beach State, 2-1, on Saturday night.
After a scoreless first half, Vasconcelos found a through ball that freed her to run directly at Long Beach's two center backs. Her run drew them far enough away that a left pass to Elena Medeiros on the far side of the goal at the top of the box set her up for a one-time shot to the upper right corner of the goal.
Medeiros' goal gave BYU a 1-0 lead in the 52nd minute and was Medeiros' 10th goal of her career. She is the 31st Cougar in program history to reach double digits in goals and joins her teammates Ashley Hatch, Vasconcelos and Marissa Nimmer Linehan.
After Ashley Gonzales equalized on a penalty kick, Vasconcelos found another opening to thread the ball through. Ashley Hatch fended off two defenders in the box to receive Vasconcelos' pass. That alone drew the keeper out, and Hatch was able to round all three and find the back of the net for a 2-1 lead in the 74th minute.
"This was a fantastic battle for us tonight and Long Beach State is a great team,” BYU head coach Jennifer Rockwood said. “We had a great defensive effort from everyone and Murphy passed the ball so well for us tonight.
"We’ve had a very good preseason so far, so it is good for us to finish with a win as we head into a very tough West Coast Conference schedule.”
Compared to their games of the past week, the Cougars only managed nine shots but put three of them on goal, while the 49ers took 12 shots and put four on goal. The Cougars did earn eight corner kicks to Long Beach's five, after finding just one against Cal Poly in a draw Thursday.
Goalkeeper Rachel Boaz made three saves, including a point blank save 1-on-1 in the 6-yard box. While the defense didn't record the shutout, the back line for the Cougars kept Long Beach to hopeful long balls for large periods of the game.
The Cougars begin West Coast Conference play on Thursday at Gonzaga at 4 p.m. PDT. The game can be heard on the Cougar IMG Sports Network, ESPN 960 AM and on BYU Radio on Sirius XM 143. It will also be streamed on TheW.tv.