SALT LAKE CITY — BYU defender Taylor Campbell Isom said she’ll never forget scoring the game-winning goal against Utah Monday afternoon, but the junior did admit she couldn’t recall everything about the experience.
“We’ve been practicing that all week,” she said of the corner kick she launched into the net in the 21st minute of BYU’s 2-0 win over Utah. “Murph (Michele Murphy Vasconcelos) had the ball, she called my name, so I knew it was coming. I back up a little bit so I wouldn’t get cut off, and I just hit it. I don’t know what happened after that.”
The goal gave her teammates all they would need to beat the Utes on their home field for the first time since 2010, although senior forward Ashley Hatch scored a second goal in the 61st minute, thanks to a timely pass from junior forward Nadia Gomes. Isom does, however, remember the aftermath of the play. “My teammates were jumping all over me,” she said smiling. “It was really fun. It was a goal I’ll never forget.” The goal didn’t just give BYU an advantage on the scoreboard. Cougar head coach Jennifer Rockwood said it also gave them confidence and calm in an environment that included a sold-out crowd Monday, which can be challenging for even the most mentally tough competitor.
“You know, leave it to your center back to score your first goal against Utah,” Rockwood said. “Taylor did had a nice goal, and it takes a lot of composure to finish a one-time corner, and that definitely settled us down and gave us the confidence to keep the ball on top.”
Rockwood said the game just feels different when the opponent is Utah.
“It’s a little more intense, a lot more energy just because it’s a rivalry and everyone wants to win,” she said. “It’s been awhile since we’ve been able to pull off a win up here. It’s always great to come up here and play a big rivalry game; we got the job done. I’m proud of the girls.”
No. 10 ranked BYU entered the rivalry game without a lot of time to worry about the fact that no one on the team had experienced a win against Utah in Salt Lake City. They beat Penn State on Friday, Aug. 26, and then Tennessee on Friday.
“We don’t practice on Sunday, so we just got together briefly this morning,” Rockwood said. “But we just felt we had to come back and prove ourselves. We just wanted to come up here and give it everything we (had) and see what happens.”
What happened was an impressive defensive effort and some timely goals. The first half was pretty even with Utah taking seven shots and BYU taking six shots. Trailing 1-0 to start the second half, Utah came out very aggressive and played much of the second half on BYU’s side of the field. The Utes took 11 shots, while BYU took seven in the second half.
Utah had nine corner kicks and couldn’t convert any of them into goals — seven of those came in the second half. BYU goalie Hannah Clark had 10 saves to earn the shutout, although an 11th save came from a beautiful header to defend the goal by Isom in the final minutes.
“We’ve got to shoot better,” Utah head coach Rich Manning said. “We’ve got to keep working. It was just one of those days. I was really pleased we were able to create all the chances we did. Kind of confirms (what we learned) from the first two games — that we have a pretty potent offense. That’s an elite offensive team they had, and I thought our defense played pretty well.”
Players from both sides said that while the rivalry is “good-spirited” and “nobody hates each other,” they definitely want the bragging rights that come with a win.
“It’s definitely one of the more fun games because you get such a big crowd from Utah that comes here,” said Utah senior Katie Rogers. “It just makes it a better atmosphere to play.”