PROVO, Utah — BYU women's soccer earned its first visit to the Final Four in program history after beating South Carolina 4-1 in the regional final of the NCAA Tournament in front of a sold-out crowd at South Field during Thanksgiving break.
“I do feel this is the best team we've had on both sides of the ball right now, especially our attack and just the energy and how hard we play and how well they play together," said BYU head coach Jennifer Rockwood. "I am just really excited to be with them.”
The Cougars showed they were hungry for more in their fourth-ever Elite Eight appearance, opening both halves with goals in less than three minutes, and their defense allowing only five shots the entire match.
BYU started the game with a bang, senior All-American Mikayla Colohan sent a ball through to senior Makaylie Moore who shot the ball into the back of the net, her third goal of the season in the third minute of the game.
The Cougars kept up the pressure with two attacks on goal coming from senior Cameron Tucker ending in incredible saves from the Gamecocks’ goalkeeper Heather Hinz.
BYU extended the lead in the 15th minute as Tucker crossed the ball in the box to Colohan who one-touched her shot into the goal, making the score 2-0.
The Cougars showed no sign of letting up as the defense’s back line maintained control and took away any opportunities for South Carolina. BYU also continued its attack with Colohan taking another one touch shot coming at the top of the box that was deflected away for another save by Hinz.
South Carolina took its first shot on goal as Claire Griffiths found the foot of Corinna Zullo resulting in the Gamecocks’ first goal in the 40th minute. Both teams continued to battle to the end of the half. BYU led with 11 shots and eight on goal to South Carolina’s four shots and one on goal. Hinz ended the half with six saves and both teams contributed four corners.
BYU showed no rust coming out of half as sophomore Breken Mozingo sent a ball into the box and Colohan sent the ball into the back of the net for her second goal of the night in the 47th minute, putting the Cougars up again by two.
BYU kept its foot on the gas, as multiple Cougars took shots resulting in a number of saves made by Hinz. Moore came up with her second goal of the match off a corner, as she deflected the ball into the net in the 61st minute. Moore tied her career-high with two goals in a single match.
The Cougars had a fast break as Tucker started to take the ball down the sideline and was tripped up by the Gamecocks' Jyllissa Harris, which resulted in a yellow card for Harris. Mozingo took the free kick about 30 yards out with the ball landing securely in Hinz arms for her eighth save of the night.
BYU maintained control and possession of the ball throughout the second half. The Cougars ended the match with 26 shots, 15 on goal and 10 corners.
Up next, BYU is set to play conference foe Santa Clara in the College Cup on Friday, Dec. 3 at Stevens Stadium. The time and broadcast information will be announced at a later date.
Cameron Tucker on the game
"There was great energy tonight. We have the best fans and they really brought it tonight. I think as a team we were playing really well together. We had high press from the very beginning, and we knew what we wanted as the outcome."
Mikayla Colohan on going into half 2-1
"We refocused at halftime, readdressed the things we needed to focus on, and we just wanted to come back out with that same energy we started the first half with to get another goal as quickly as possible."
Mikayla Colohan on goal in second half
"I was lucky to be in the place that I was. I didn't create it at all. Brecken did all the work, and she played a great ball right across the face, and luckily, I was there to tap it in."
Cameron Tucker on preparing for this game
"I think that we prepared like any other game. We stuck to our strengths and what we know how to do. Every single game we always try to come out hard and that's exactly what we did. And we always want to try and score first. So, like I said, I think we prepared like it was any other game."
Mikayla Colohan on what it means to make the Final Four
"I mean, it's what you work for your whole life. I've wanted to be in this position the whole time I've been at BYU and I'm lucky that we were able to get another year to come back to make it happen. So, I am super excited and couldn't have asked for anything more."
Coach Jennifer Rockwood on the game
"I am really proud of this team. Especially these two [Colohan and Tucker]. They've led the way with this team to make it the best attacking team in the country. They've worked hard. They've had a goal in mind. They talked about it from the very first day we started practicing. I think seeing Santa Clara win last season made it more of a reality for us when they won the national championship in the spring. I think it made everyone realize that hey, if they can do it, why not us and let's get after it and let's set a higher goal than we've ever had. And these guys [Colohan and Tucker] have helped the team get us there. We get to go to the College Cup, so it's pretty cool."
Coach Rockwood on advancing to the College Cup
"I do feel this is the best team we've had on both sides of the ball right now, especially our attack and just the energy and how hard we play and how well they play together. Just really excited to be with them. And yeah, it seems like we're just ready to play another game. I don't think the College Cup thing has really hit yet, but it's just a huge accomplishment. I know few people get an opportunity to coach in one or play in one, so we'll make the most of it for sure."