I was really proud of the girls today. It was obviously a huge win for us. Anytime you get into the NCAA Tournament you know it's one-and-done, so it puts a lot of pressure on both teams. —BYU coach Jennifer Rockwood
PROVO — Midway through the first period of Saturday's NCAA first-round match between BYU and Utah Valley, Cougar forward Nadia Gomes danced around several Wolverine defenders before sending a beautiful cross to midfielder Elena Medeiros. Medeiros then sent in a perfectly placed kick into the upper left-hand corner of the net to give the Cougars a 1-0 lead.
As is often the case when the Cougars play at home, that one goal was all they needed.
From there BYU created more scoring chances while holding off everything the visiting Wolverines threw at it to come away with a 1-0 win.
"I was really proud of the girls today. It was obviously a huge win for us," said BYU coach Jennifer Rockwood following the win. "Anytime you get into the NCAA Tournament you know it's one-and-done, so it puts a lot of pressure on both teams."
BYU, which makes it to the NCAA Tournament most years, is used to the pressure. For up-and-coming UVU, Saturday marked its first ever NCAA Tournament game.
But despite losing 1-0, Wolverine coach Brent Anderson was pleased with how his team performed and is optimistic about the future.
"I'm really proud of my team," Anderson said. "Not just for their effort today, but for their effort over the entire season. I think this was a great experience for us and definitely one that we can build on and grow from, and we're looking forward to getting back here again."
As is often the case when BYU is playing on its South Field, the time of possession was decidedly in the Cougars' favor throughout the match. The Cougars outshot the Woleverines 18 to 7 while notching yet another shutout, their 10th time blanking the opponent at home this season.
"It's one of the main things we work on and talk about," Rockwood said of yet another great defensive effort at home. "The main focus we had at halftime today was to make sure we were committed to our defensive pressure, our defensive shape our back four continue to be fantastic."
As for Medeiros' game-winning goal, she was quick to credit her teammates, specifically Gomes
"I think it was one of the prettiest goals I think we've seen all season," Medeiros said. "The ball went wide, came into Nadia, and Nadia did a great job drawing defenders her way, and slotted it through, and I just passed it in."
Unfortunately for Medeiros, her calf cramped up pretty severely late in the match, leading to trainers having to help her off the pitch. Despite the injury, Medeiros said she's fine and will be good to go next week when BYU takes on No. 1-seeded Stanford in Palo Alto, California.
"Anytime you can advance, we're certainly excited. It doesn't matter who we play," Rockwood said of playing Stanford again, after dropping a 1-0 decision to the Cardinal earlier this season. "Stanford is one of the premier soccer programs in the country. They've proven that consistently over the last 15 years. We're excited to have another shot at them."
BYU will kick off against Stanford this Thursday at 8 p.m. MST.
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