MORAGA, Calif. — For the first time in series history, the BYU and Saint Mary’s matchup resulted in a scoreless game on Saturday afternoon.
“I give a lot of credit to Saint Mary’s,” said BYU head coach Jennifer Rockwood. “They came into this game really fired-up and locked us down, so we were not able to get the ball moving very much. We just need to find a little bit more fire in this team.”
In the final match between the Cougars and Gaels, the teams battled hard as evident by the 10 fouls apiece. BYU’s first-half possession and pressure carried into the second half, but the Gaels came into the second half strong and confident, making it difficult for the Cougars to penetrate through their backline.
Despite the Cougars having six corner kicks and 13 shots, four of which were on target, they could not capitalize off their offensive attacks to find the back of the net. Brecken Mozingo had the most shots in the 90-minute battle, with Olivia Wade following close behind with three.
The Cougars had their first shot on goal in the sixth minute as Mozingo sent a left-footed ball right into the chest of Gaels goalkeeper, Taylor Poland. As BYU continued its offensive pressure, back-to-back corners were awarded to the Cougars and cleared out of the box by the Saint Mary’s backline.
Saint Mary’s saw an offensive attack in the 13th minute of the match with a run down the right-side of the field that was crossed into the six. Cleared out by freshman defender Izzi Stratton, BYU regained possession on the pitch.
With her second strong defensive play of the game in the 19th minute, Stratton deflected an attempted through-ball by the Gaels. Minutes later, Saint Mary’s again attempted to make a play in their offensive third and Stratton cleared the ball for her third defensive block of the half.
After a free kick was awarded to the Cougars, Mozingo sent the ball to the top of the 18, where Bella Folino turned to take BYU’s second shot of the game, which just missed right of the post. Another left-footed shot was blasted by Mozingo, missing to the left of the net as the Cougars continued their attacks.
Although BYU outshot Saint Mary’s 6-1 through the first 45 minutes of the match, the game remained scoreless heading into halftime. BYU’s offensive pressure saw three corner kicks to Saint Mary’s' zero. The aggressiveness of this WCC matchup was evident in the five fouls called on the Cougars and eight on the Gaels in the first half.
Both teams came into the second half looking to capitalize on their offensive attacks. Saint Mary’s had its first shot on goal immediately followed by a BYU attack and Mozingo shot that slid past the right post.
As the Cougars and Gaels continued to battle, two shots apiece were tallied in the first 10 minutes of the second half. In the 60th minute, a yellow card was issued to Saint Mary’s midfielder Isabella Santavicca to give BYU another free kick outside the 18. Mozingo’s ball slid right past the end line without any touch by her teammates.
Another foul in the 63rd minute allowed a ball sent into the six by Kendell Petersen. Olivia Wade volleyed the ball out of the air for a good chance on goal, but the ball rolled into the arms of the Saint Mary’s keeper.
Minutes later, a second yellow card was issued to Saint Mary’s on top of the penalty arc for a 23-yard free kick by the Cougars. The free kick was taken by Wade, which hit the Gaels defensive wall and was cleared out of danger.
As the teams approached the end of regulation, the Cougars were pressing hard as they desperately attempted to put the ball in the back of the net. In the last few minutes of the game, the Gaels defensive line held firm as the Cougars were called for back-to-back offsides.
BYU’s final attempt on goal came in the 89th minute as Folino took a shot inside the box that slid through the legs of the Saint Mary’s keeper, but was cleared out by the Gaels defense for a 0-0 draw.
The Cougars next take the field Wednesday, Oct. 5 as they host WCC foe San Francisco on South Field at 7 p.m. MDT. The game will be televised on BYUm streamed on the BYUtv app and carried live on the BYU Sports Network — BYURadio.org/BYU Radio app/BYU Radio 107.9 FM.