After mostly dominating performances in 2019, a crazy match like the one Saturday against one-win UC Irvine was probably due for the No. 5 BYU women’s soccer team.
The Anteaters put the Cougars on their heels early with a goal in the first two minutes — the first time BYU had trailed this season — and played aggressively the entire night. But the Cougars recovered for a 4-2 win in front of 3,490 fans at South Field to move to 10-0 and learned a good lesson about how to recover from adversity.
“They knew what we did and tried to take away our wing play, and we didn’t make adjustments to it until we moved to a different formation,” BYU coach Jennifer Rockwood said. “That helped us open up some space. When you get scored on in the first minute, it’s something we haven’t seen. We haven’t had to play from behind. I thought it was a great experience for us. The girls didn’t panic.”
UC Irvine (1-9-0) earned a corner kick 90 seconds into the match and made the Cougars pay, with Kyndal McKinney heading the ball high into the goal for a quick 1-0 lead.
It was the first time BYU had trailed in 811 minutes of soccer in 2019.
The Cougars and the home fans were stunned, but eventually tied the game in the 38th minute. Rachel Lyman’s pass into the box was touched by Jamie Shepherd, who was tripped and went flying. The ball settled in front of Mikayla Colohan, who pounded it into the back of the net with a left-footed shot for the 1-1 tie.
Elise Flake very nearly gave BYU the lead just a few minutes later, finding herself unmarked inside the box. But her shot caromed off the crossbar and the game went to halftime tied at 1.
UC Irvine, sensing the opportunity for an upset, played very physical soccer throughout the game. The Anteaters were hit with five yellow cards and 17 penalties in total.
The Cougars got a break in the 68th minute when UC Irvine committed a handball inside the box off a Lizzy Brady shot. Flake fired home the penalty kick for a 2-1 BYU lead.
In the 75th minute, Alyssa Jefferson sent a gorgeous serve into the scoring area on a free kick. Colohan rose up and headed the ball in for her second goal of the game and a 3-1 Cougar lead.
UC Irvine wasn’t done yet and pulled to within 3-2 on a goal from Jessica Miclat with a little less than 10 minutes remaining. BYU answered with Rachel McCarthy, who scored the first goal of her career on a rocket from 20 yards off her left foot for a 4-2 Cougar advantage.
UC Irvine had a chance to pull back within one with eight minutes remaining but Miclat’s penalty kick went off the left goalpost. BYU managed to kill the rest of the clock to earn win No. 10.
“It was definitely a crazy game,” Colohan said. “It was not the prettiest and it was really physical but we got the result. I think it was good for us. It taught us a lesson and showed us how we can respond if we do go down a goal. It was just coming out with energy and matching their physicality.”
BYU (10-0-0) opens West Coast Conference play next Saturday with a road trip to play its biggest challenger in the league in Santa Clara.