Coaches often fall back on the “it was a good team effort” quote.

“A good team effort” aptly describes BYU’s 2-0 loss to defending national champion and No. 1 ranked Stanford on Thursday at South Field, but what the Cougars really needed was for someone — anyone — to make a big play or two.

BYU (1-2-1) created numerous opportunities to score, especially through the first 30 minutes of the first half, but couldn’t find the back of the net in front of a crowd of 2,272 fans at South Field.

“I don’t know if anyone really stood out tonight,” BYU coach Jennifer Rockwood said, “and I think that’s what we need. We need a couple of players to stand out a little bit more.”

Stanford (3-0-0) won its 25th straight match and had its star shined brightly on Thursday. Sophomore forward Catarina Marcario — who led the nation with 50 points and 16 goals as a freshman in 2017 — gave the Cardinal the only goal they would need in the 35th minute, spinning away from a defender and delivering a powerful shot to the corner past the fingertips of a diving Sabrina Macias-Davis for a 1-0 lead that would hold up.

“We certainly had our hands full tonight,” Rockwood said. “All the credit to Stanford. They are a phenomenal team and will have a phenomenal season. I hope we learn from the game and realize we’re very close to being able to play at that very high level.”

The Cougars outshot Stanford 19 to 16 but only five of those shots were on frame. Cardinal goalkeeper Alison Jahansouz was credited with five saves but rarely had to move off her line to gobble up BYU’s attacks.

Mikayla Colohan had six shots and Lizzy Braby four for the Cougars. In the 16th minute, Rachel Bingham Lyman drove a ball through the box to Elise Flake but her header was just wide right. Madie Siddoway Gates got a good look in the 23rd minute that skipped over the crossbar and Colohan had another similar opportunity in the 34th minute.

“We had a couple of opportunities but it was kind of like the Texas A&M game (a 2-0 loss),” Rockwood said. “The difference is putting away a goal early when you have some chances. It really changes the game. That’s the thing we’ll take away the most. We created some opportunities but we’ve got to find someone who can put the ball at least on frame for us. We turned the ball over a little too much and Stanford is too good to give them the ball so much.”

The Cardinal scored the clinching goal in the 70th minute when BYU failed to clear a ball in the scoring area. Jo Jo Harber gathered in the loose ball and slotted a shot to the far corner for a 2-0 lead.

Macias-Davis went the whole way in goal for the Cougars and made two terrific saves in the final 10 minutes, sliding into traffic to knock a ball away in the 84th minute to deny Marcario another goal.

“Sabrina was doing well,” Rockwood said. “Her distribution was solid and I thought she had an outstanding game for us.”

BYU will host Idaho State on Saturday at 7 p.m. MT.

“We weren’t expected to beat the No. 1 team in the country but we gave it everything we had,” Rockwood said. “We did some really great things. I told the girls in the past three games we’ve only given up six or seven shots. We went after them and tried to attack them more than a lot of teams do. We created some chances but we’re to the point where we’ve played some great teams and we’re all about getting results as well. We’re still looking for our best game and our best performance.”

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

Darnell Dickson, who has been covering sports in Utah since 1989 (with a detour to Nebraska for three years somewhere in there), is currently the BYU football columnist and BYU men’s basketball beat writer.

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