Louisville’s heralded defense was impenetrable — until it wasn’t.
No. 2 seed BYU broke open a scoreless tie with three second-half goals within six minutes of each other to race past the Cardinals 4-0 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in front of a crowd of 2,476 at South Field on Thursday.
The still-unbeaten Cougars (20-0-1) moved on to the third round on Saturday at South Field for a 6 p.m. MT meeting with North Carolina State. The Wolfpack (12-6-4) upset No. 3 seed Arkansas 2-1 earlier in the day.
First Elise Flake, then Mikayla Colohan, then Cameron Tucker found the back of the net in flurry of outstanding attacking play from BYU, turning a tense defensive battle into a rout.
After the match, Flake said the sudden burst of scoring was about being “hungry for goals,” and the Cougars sure found a way to eat in the second half.
“We definitely found space a lot better than we did in the first half,” Flake said. “We attacked a lot more and looked to go forward. We looked to get touches in the box and it just kind of opened up for us. Once we got that first goal, they kind of just kept coming.”
The scoring started in the 62nd minute when Cameron Tucker slotted a gorgeous pass to Flake, who sprinted with a defender on her hip and fired a shot into the goal for a 1-0 lead.
Just over a minute later, Flake battled past three defenders on the wing and centered a pass in front of the goal to Colohan, who quickly made the score 2-0.
The third goal came in the 68th minute. Defender Alyssa Jefferson pounded a pass up the sideline to Rachel Lyman, whose speed allowed her to beat her defender and launch a pass to Tucker in front of the goal. Tucker was on target and it was 3-0 for BYU.
Colohan added a penalty kick goal at the 8:14 mark after a handball on Louisville.
The Cardinals hadn’t given up more than three goals all season while playing in the premier women’s soccer conference in the country, the ACC.
“We just reminded the girls at halftime that we are a goal-scoring team,” Cougar coach Jennifer Rockwood said. “We like to go forward, get touches in the box and get crosses. We just needed to drive the ball and have confidence in what we’ve been doing all season long. Sure enough, we get the ball to Elise, she goes in and scores the winning goal.
“We needed to look forward little a bit more. If we could break their pressure in their front line and get in behind them, we knew Elise and Cam are really hard to track if they’re running toward the ball. We were playing quicker and just playing with more confidence. When you get that first goal, I think that just fed our confidence even more.”
BYU’s stars came up big in the victory. Colohan scored twice and dominated the midfield with her ball control and passing, while Flake, the team’s leading scorer, had a goal and an assist. She became just the second player in BYU history to score 20 goals in a season with her 20th against Louisville.
“These two up here (Flake and Colohan) have led this team all season on and off the field,” Rockwood said. “They’re just so dangerous and it was fitting for both of them to get the goals and help us take care of business tonight.”