(Photo by BYU Photo/Mark Philbrick)
PROVO, Utah – Goals from Jessica Ringwood and Marissa Nimmer led the BYU women's soccer team to a 2-1 victory over Utah State in the opening round of the NCAA tournament Saturday afternoon on South Field.
"This was a huge win for us in our first NCAA tournament game this year," said head coach Jennifer Rockwood. "We drew a really tough opening round against Utah State and knew that it was going to be a battle once we found out we were going to play them. We were able to bounce back from their early goal in the second half and do what we needed to do to hold on and get the win."
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BYU got on the board first with a goal from senior Jessica Ringwood off an assist by sophomore Jaiden Thornock with 15 minutes left in the first half. Thornock pushed the ball down the right sideline before crossing the ball to the middle where Ringwood knocked it home. The goal was Ringwood's team-leading ninth of the year and Thornock's sixth assist on the season.
The Cougars got on the board again 10 minutes later when Marissa Nimmer scored off an assist from Kayla Varner. Ringwood pushed the ball upfield, passed it into Varner who one-touched it towards Nimmer who then was able to kick the ball into the bottom left corner of the net. The goal was her fourth of the season and the assist was Varner's second.
The BYU offense created numerous scoring chances early in the game, placing many shots just wide of the frame while tallying 10 shots in the half. The defense also did their part and held strong in the first period. The Aggies were limited to five shots with Ashley Bazzarone and Lindsi Lisonbee Cutshall pushing back all the Utah State scoring chances.
A minute into the second half, Utah State was awarded a free kick close to midfield. The Aggies sent it in and put a shot on goal. Goalkeeper Erica Owens deflected the ball but didn't clear the box. From a group of players around the ball, Utah State's Jackie Tillotson found the back of the net to bring the score to 2-1.
With 15 minutes left in the second half, the Cougars began to push the momentum by keeping the ball on their offensive end and earning a couple of free kicks close to the box. The Aggies responded by making a run of their own, turning the tempo their way. Utah State sent a shot on goal from just outside the box and Owens made a spectacular save, pushing the ball over the crossbar to thwart the attack.
After allowing the early goal in the second half, the Cougar defense held strong and limited Utah State to only four more shots in the last 45 minutes. BYU tallied nine more shots in the second half.
With the win, BYU will now host the 2nd and 3rd rounds of the NCAA Tournament. The Cougars will host Auburn on Thursday, Nov. 15 at 6 p.m. MST live on BYUtv and online for free at byutvsports.com
The earlier game, also on Thursday, will start at 3 p.m. with Marquette playing against the winner of West Virginia and Princeton. Winners of Thursday’s games will play Saturday, Nov. 17 with the time still to be determined.
If BYU wins Thursday, the game on Saturday will be broadcast live on BYUtv at 5 p.m. MST. Tickets go on sale to season ticket holders and Cougar Club Members Monday morning and to the general public Tuesday at noon.,