Cougs advance to Sweet Sixteen after thrilling win over Stanford in PKs


CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — With a decisive stop by freshman goalkeeper Taygan Sill and a winning strike by midfielder Ellie Maughan in penalty kicks, the BYU women’s soccer team has advanced to the Sweet Sixteen with a thrilling win over the Stanford Cardinal on Friday.

It was a 1-1 score through regulation and two overtimes, with the Cougars winning 5-4 in penalty kicks. 

“What a beautiful place to play and what a fantastic game,” said Jennifer Rockwood, BYU head coach. “It was a bit of a nail-biter as both teams saw several opportunities to get ahead in the game, and we did what we needed to do to hold on. Super proud of the girls going out big in PKs, because that is a lot of pressure. Glad they stepped out there and got the job done today.”

As two of the top-10 scoring offenses in the nation, Stanford and BYU came to the field ready for battle. Both offenses played aggressive, with 22 shots by the Cougars and 33 shots from the Cardinal. BYU led in shots on frame with 12 to Stanford’s 10. Both team's goalkeepers posted important saves, with Savanna Mason making six and Ryan Campbell tallying 10.  

First Half

The Cougars saw the first dangerous attack in the fourth minute on the pitch, with a shot by Olivia Wade from the top of the penalty arc that deflected off the post and found the back of the net for a 1-0 lead on BYU's first shot of the game. The goal was just the second conceded by the Cardinal since they played Washington State back on Oct. 9, seven games ago.

After the early BYU goal, Stanford gained control of the ball in its offensive third, firing off 11 shots in the following minutes, one finding the back of the net in the 22nd minute. Freshman forward Jasmine Aikey got the equalizer for Stanford, notching her fifth goal in the last two games. Aikey scored four goals in the NCAA opening round against San Jose State.

BYU found an attack in the 29th minute as Wade received a pass in the middle of the field and sent a through-ball to Rachel McCarthy, who took a right-footed shot punched out by Campbell.

With 10 minutes remaining in the first half, a shot by goal-scorer Ayeki was punched out by Mason for Stanford’s fourth corner kick of the match. After being cleared out, the Cougars regained possession on the pitch and began a late attack.

In the 39th minute, McCarthy took a shot from inside the penalty box, forcing a diving save by the Stanford keeper. Just five minutes later, Bella Folino raced down the spine of the field and fired off a shot that sailed just over the crossbar. 

Through the first 45 minutes, Stanford led in shots 16-7 and corner kicks 4-1. Despite the disparity, the Cougars and Cardinal went into the locker room with a 1-1 draw.

Second Half

BYU started the second half much like the first, with high-pressure and consistent connection. The Cougars found three shots in the first five minutes of the second half, keeping possession in the center of the field.

In the 59th minute, McCarthy beat Stanford defenders for a breakaway against the Cardinal keeper, shooting the ball just wide of the goal.

Stanford started pressuring BYU’s defense in the 73rd minute, tallying five shots in a one-minute span, as the Cougars struggled to clear the ball out of their penalty box. Mason finally snatched the ball out of the air to regain BYU possession on the pitch.

In the 79th minute, a miss-hit by Mason to Zoe Jacobs resulted in a dangerous Stanford shot from the top of the 18, missing just over the crossbar. 

A shot by Jacobs off a BYU corner kick in the 84th minute was tipped out by the Stanford goalkeeper as the Cougars continued to attack as the clock ran down.

On a final attempt to take the second-round win, Stanford earned back-to-back corner kicks, with shots by Sierra Enge and Avani Brandt, with saves by Mason. As regulation ended in a 1-1 draw, BYU and Stanford prepared for two 10-minute overtime periods.

First Overtime Period

In the 93rd minute, Stanford caught BYU’s backline flat-footed and got a breakaway down the spine of the field, forcing Mason to come to the top of her box for a sliding save.

With 20 seconds remaining in the first overtime period, Jamie Shepherd collected the ball at half-field and fired off a shot that missed wide right, taking the teams into the second overtime period still tied 1-1.

Second Overtime Period

With the ball bouncing back-and-forth between the two teams, BYU saw the first shot on target in the second overtime period. In the 105th minute, Wade blasted a shot from the penalty arc that was punched over by Stanford’s goalkeeper. 

In the 108th, Stanford had a corner kick that bounced around on the goal-line, but was cleared out by BYU’s defense. Despite a few good looks by BYU, the second overtime period ended in a 1-1 draw, sending the teams into penalty kicks.

Penalty Kicks

Both teams converted their first four attempts, but a save by BYU freshman goalkeeper Sill, who had come into the game for the sole purpose of facing the penalty kicks, and a final goal by Maughan gave BYU the win 5-4, with the team storming the field in celebration. 

The Cougars now advance to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen to be played on Saturday, Nov. 19 at 11:30 a.m. EST on Dorrance Field against the winner of tonight's matchup, Georgia and North Carolina. The game will be streamed on BYURadio, the BYURadio App and ESPN+.