SANTA CLARA, Calif. ‒ No. 4 seed BYU women’s soccer advanced to its first ever championship game in its first ever NCAA College Cup appearance after defeating defending-champion Santa Clara in a penalty kicks after a 0-0 score through regulation and two overtimes Friday night.
"What a game," said BYU head coach Jennifer Rockwood, who is in her 27th season coaching the Cougars and in her first College Cup. "I am really proud of our players and our staff and everyone who was involved. Obviously, a very exciting and huge win for us. It was a fantastic game. We knew this would be a tough battle, and it was a really electric game for college soccer. We didn’t get the goal we wanted in regulation, but it came through in PKs.
BYU goalkeeper Cassidy Smith had a season-high seven saves and shone in the penalty kicks. On the offensive side, BYU was able to outshoot Santa Clara 26-13, maintain possession of the ball the majority of the game and remain patient in a physical game.
The Cougars will now face the No. 1 Florida State Seminoles, last year's College Cup runners up, on Monday at 5 p.m. PST.
The Cougars started the game strong against Santa Clara and had an early scoring opportunity on a header from Makaylie Moore that hit the post and deflected back into the arms of Santa Clara goalkeeper Kylie Foutch.
The Broncos did not waste any time answering back and forward Izzy D’Aquila took a hard shot, requiring Smith to make a diving save. Smith continued to shine as she made a few more big saves during the first half. BYU’s defense was able to hold the Broncos offense to seven shots the first half.
The Cougars continued to put pressure on the Broncos' defense with a total of 10 shots, four on target.
BYU and Santa Clara went into the locker room scoreless at the half for the second time this season.
BYU started the second half aggressive once again. The Cougars had an early opportunity on an offensive press led by a long run from Cameron Tucker.
The Broncos were awarded with a free kick in the 63rd minute, and Smith made an aggressive save as she punched the ball out of the box.
BYU gained momentum as Brecken Mozingo took the ball down to the corner and made a cross right in front of the goal, leading to another Foutch save.
Both the Cougars and Broncos received several free kicks due to fouls as the game got more aggressive. The two teams combined for 31 total fouls in the game — 16 on Santa Clara, 15 on BYU. After a foul on BYU's Ellie Maughan, the Cougars were awarded a free kick right outside the goal box in the 83rd minute. Mozingo took the kick and Foutch was forced to make another difficult save.
Regulation time finished with the teams still tied at zero’s, sending the game into overtime.
First Overtime Period
Both teams came into the first overtime period with lock-down defense, not allowing many offensive chances.
BYU's Kendell Petersen fired a rocket in the 93rd minute, which Foutch barely got her fingertips on, deflecting the ball off of the crossbar and out. It was the most dangerous offensive opportunity for BYU in overtime. The Cougars held possession of the ball for the majority of the remainder of the first ten-minute overtime period.
Second Overtime Period
The Broncos came into the second overtime with a push. D’Aquila took a shot off her teammate's cross that was labeled for the far corner of the net, but BYU defender Laveni Vaka made a game-saving play, headed the ball out of harm's way and keeping the Cougars alive.
BYU answered back with an opportunity just outside the eighteen by Rachel McCarthy in the 106th minute of the game. Unable to finish, BYU and Santa Clara went into a penalty kicks after finishing 110 minutes of play scoreless.
BYU failed to convert on its first two attempts, but a save by Smith and conversion by Mozingo quickly turned the tide back into BYU's favor. Bello Follino and Olivia Wade scored on the Cougars' final two shots, and Santa Clara's final attempt went off the post to stay out, and BYU won the PKs 3-2, with the team storming the field in celebration and mobbing Smith.
BYU is now one win away from its first women's soccer national championship. The matchup against the Seminoles will air live on ESPNU. The game will also be carried live on the BYU Sports Network — BYU Cougars App and byucougars.com/liveradio.
"We reminded ourselves to just stay locked in and not get down. It’s hard when a team plays as good defense as Santa Clara, but we got the result we wanted and that is all that matters."
"It was fun to take a moment every time we stepped on the field and smile and just remember this is what we play for. These are the moments you dream for. Couldn’t have asked for a cooler environment for us to just leave it all on the field."