Zags Comeback Falls Short; Drops 3-2 Decision To BYU
SPOKANE, Wash. - The Gonzaga University women's soccer team's feverish comeback attempt ran out of time Saturday afternoon as the visiting BYU Cougars escaped the Gonzaga Soccer Field with a 3-2 West Coast Conference victory.
The Bulldogs (7-6-2, 0-2-2 WCC) were the ones to score first, taking the lead 3:20 into the second half. Gonzaga worked the field perfectly as senior Sarah Rhodes, who got the ball on the left side of the field, found freshman Katey Pennington open on the right flank. Pennington, after a few dribbles down the field, crossed the ball dangerously into the goal box to a waiting Kasey Rubosky. The freshman midfielder, with a defender on her back, slid and tapped the ball into goal right before the Cougars (8-4-3, 2-1-1 WCC) keeper could get there.
"We were happy with the first half, defensively and with our organization but wanted to get a little more involved in the attack and I think we came out with that in the second half and it showed with that early goal from Kasey," stated third-year head coach Amy Edwards after the match. "The hard part of getting that early goal is now we were playing a bit more defensive and that isn't what we really wanted to do, we wanted to keep attacking."
Indeed the goal did come too soon for Gonzaga as BYU went on the offensive and the Bulldogs were forced deep to defend.
The Cougars peppered Zag keeper Susan Brown with six quick shots; one went off the crossbar and two others Brown had to make saves on. Then an unfortunate cross turned into the shot that tied the game for the Cougars. BYU's Lauren Cosby was deep on the right flank when she crossed a tough angled ball towards goal. Brown misread the cross and it dipped over her arms and into the top left corner for the 1-1 tie at 57:14.
The momentum shifting moment came at the 62:13 mark for both Gonzaga and BYU. Cougar Carlee Payne and Bulldog senior defender Morgan Manchester fought for the ball on the edge of the 18-yard box when Manchester got tripped up on the play. Payne squeaked free and placed a pass into the box to the open Kyleight Royall who tallied her second goal of the season to break the 1-1 tie.
"I felt like that really changed the momentum of the match," explained Edwards.
BYU increased its lead to 3-1 at 81:47 with an own goal by Gonzaga.
The Bulldogs snapped out of their funk though and showed how dangerous a team it can be in the final five minutes of the second half.
Sophomore Ali Ohashi had two great opportunities to score; her first was a one-touch blast that BYU keeper McKinzie Olson luckily got a hand on to push over the cross bar at 85:53. Ohashi's second chance came on the ensuing corner kick by Rhodes, but her header went wide left at 86:29.
The Bulldogs finally cracked the goal line and sliced the Cougars lead to 3-2 at 88:02. Freshman defender Cricket Harber found the ball at her feet when BYU couldn't clear another corner kick taken by Rhodes. Haber didn't leave anything for chance and crammed the ball into the goal for her second tally of the year.
"I was personally happy with our young players today," stated Edwards. "It says a lot about our program going forward. Kasey Rubosky, Ali Ohashi, Katey Pennington, Cricket Harber; those player had the mentality and character to fight through the whole game."
Time wasn't on Gonzaga's side though as the final two minutes passed and the whistle blew.
"We kept fighting but we just didn't have enough time to get that third goal," explained Edwards. "I think if we had more time we would have gotten it."
The Bulldogs hit the road for a match at Pepperdine University Friday. Match time is set for 3 p.m. in Malibu.