BYU has been a prolific scoring team this season, second in the NCAA and third in program history with 77 goals.

The top team, Stanford, has 87 goals due to putting a whopping 15 into the back of the net in its NCAA opener against Prairie View A&M.

But enough about offense.

The Cougars (20-0-1) are also one of the country’s top defensive clubs, giving up just 10 goals in 21 matches. BYU returned its entire back line on defense in 2019 — Alyssa Jefferson, Josie Guinn, Rachel Lyman and Danika Serassio — as well as goalkeeper Sabrina Davis. BYU has given up two goals in a match twice all season and not since Oct. 5.

“We do a good job of blocking shots and playing together as a group,” Davis said. “We have confidence in each other and a belief that everyone is capable of so much. One thing I enjoy about playing with the back line is how they have my back. I really do love them on and off field. When you play for someone that you love and a group you love, you play that much harder and that much better.”

Scouting Report North Carolina State (12-6-4) finished fifth in the Atlantic Coast Conference behind three No. 1 NCAA seeds — North Carolina, Virginia and Florida State — and Louisville, though the Wolfpack beat the Cardinals twice.

North Carolina State upset No. 3 seed Arkansas 2-1 in Thursday’s second round to set up the match on Saturday with No. 2 seed BYU.

Confidence doesn’t appear to be a problem for North Carolina State.

“We played well and should’ve had three or four (goals) before they scored,” Wolfpack coach Tim Santoro said. “It wasn’t a 2-1 game, but we’ll take moving on to the Sweet 16.”

Senior Tziarra King is the main threat for North Carolina State with 13 goals and six assists. Jessica Berlin has allowed 18 goals in 2019 and has logged 61 saves.

The Wolfpack are in the Sweet 16 for the third time in four years.

“They have played great teams,” BYU coach Jennifer Rockwood said. “They’ve had a great season and have a couple of wins over Louisville. They had a big win today (Thursday) and I saw the first half. They’ve got some really dangerous players up top and it looks like they have some good experience and mature defenders. They are a well-organized team. But we’ve played against lot of good teams this year. We’ll just recover and repair and try to do our thing again on Saturday night.”

I know that guy

Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell was in attendance at South Field on Thursday. He was invited by BYU fans on social media but also played college ball at Louisville and said he knew quite a few girls on the Cardinals team. Mitchell interacted with fans for autographs and photos and continues to build a reputation as one of the most accessible superstars in the NBA.

That’s the number

The No. 20 is a good one for the Cougars.

Thursday’s 4-0 victory against Louisville was the 20th win of the season, the third-most in program history. In addition, BYU senior Elise Flake scored her 20th goal of the year against the Cardinals. She’s the second Cougar to achieve that mark. The first? BYU’s all-time leading scorer and former Olympian Shauna Rohbock, who did it three times: 35 goals in 1996, 24 goals in 1998 and 20 goals in 1995.

On the other side

Stanford is the No. 1 seed in BYU’s bracket and would host the Elite Eight match in Palo Alto should they advance. Friday’s second-round matches have the Cardinal (19-1-0) against Hofstra (16-3-2) and Arizona (12-6-1) taking on No. 4 seed Penn State (16-6-1). The winners will play on Sunday.

Follow Darnell Dickson on Twitter @darnellwrites or e-mail him at ddickson@heraldextra.com.

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