It wasn't American football, but BYU soccer came out looking to blitz in the second half.
After a scoreless and somewhat listless first half, the Cougars upped the intensity several notches, scoring all four of their goals en route to a 4-0 shutout Tuesday night over rival Utah at the BYU South Field. The scoring frenzy ignited a crowd of 4,437, the second largest in program history.
"I just thought that we needed more emotion, a little more passion," BYU head coach Jennifer Rockwood said. "I think they were a little nervous, first game, big crowd."
The opponent obviously had something to do with that. Ironically, they were also the reason BYU's offensive floodgates spilled open. Utah defender Lauren Dudley was hit with her second yellow card of the night in the 14th minute of the second half, setting up BYU for a free kick just outside the box.
Junior midfielder Jessica Ringwood got the nod for the kick, and looped it hard over a wall of nine Ute defenders and over the goalkeepers outstretched hands. The ball careened off the bottom of the crossbar before hitting dropping in the goal.
The Cougars struck again less than seven minutes later, finding Auna Doria in the middle. The senior striker quickly turned the corner on her defender before punching in her first goal as a starter.
"Jess put away that great free kick that kind of unleashed it," Rockwood said. "I think that helped her confidence a little bit more, then we turned it on after that."
Doria has turned her own game on since preseason. Two weeks ago she was not who Rockwood slated as the new starting forward, but her exceptional play disallowed Rockwood from keeping her on the bench for long.
"She's just had a great practice and preseason," Rockwood. "We kind of start over during preseason in camp and Auna proved she needed to be on the field."
For Doria, a senior, the nod to start may seem later than usual. After scoring and assisting on goals twice last season, the Orem native insists she is simply grateful for the opportunities she has gotten - and will continue to receive.
"In my mind it's just ‘do my best,'" Doria said. "I made up a motto for myself, to expect nothing but give everything. I have a goal worth fighting for. I shouldn't feel entitled to anything."
The underclassmen struck next in the scoring column, including true freshman Jaiden Thornock out of Ogden, UT. The 5-4 forward fought off three defenders on a breakaway opportunity, smashing the ball from left-to-right for her first career score.
Fluid ball movement earned BYU their final insurance goal. Cami Jensen sent the ball down the right sideline to forward Carlee Payne, who promptly crossed middle to Niki Fernandes. The sophomore transfer from San Diego State made enough of an angle to kick it in for her first goal as a BYU Cougar.
The offensive production from multiple sources gives Rockwood a pleasant problem moving forward.
"I feel like we're really deep this year," Rockwood said. "We have a lot of attacking players. You'll see a lot of different forwards that we'll throw out there."
As for the Utah-BYU rivalry, Rockwood pointed to the reaction of her players as proof that a change of conference didn't translate to a change of significance between the two teams.
"I think the rivalry is definitely there," she said. The nerves got the best of us a little bit. First home game, they've been looking forward to it for so long, it's against your rivals. I think it just took as awhile, and I was really proud of us for coming out [like that] in the second half."