Gonzaga women’s soccer fought hard but ultimately lost to the undefeated BYU Cougars on Senior Night. The Bulldogs fell to 11-6-1 on the season with one road game left.
This loss more or less knocked Gonzaga out of the NCAA tournament, meaning this is was the second to last game this group of girls would play together.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Head coach Chris Watkins said. “We were working hard for that goal so it's sad to go out like this.”
BYU started off by putting pressure on GU right away. In the first 11 minutes, the Cougars had five close shots. Twice, they were blocked by sophomore Haley Archuleta, while goalie Isabel Jones snagged another.
Gonzaga had tried to get the ball down to the other side of the field, but BYU would not let up. They got a few more shots in, but Gonzaga kept up keeping them outside the goal. However, in the 24th minute, BYU Forward, Elise Flake, drove the ball to the left corner and crossed it into the box where it was knocked in by another player.
BYU tried a similar same play a minute later and it was almost as successful, but Isabel Jones made a huge save to keep it out of the net. Gonzaga was able to relieve some of the pressure after this, as they began to be more offensive and drive the ball down the field.
However, in the 35th minute, BYU went for its signature play again but took the shot from the outside instead of crossing to the middle putting them up 2 – 0. Three minutes later, they ran it again and BYU scored their third goal of the half.
Down 3-0, Gonzaga came out of the break with a renewed sense of vigor. They were driving harder down the field, taking more shots, and holding BYU to less shots. Freshmen Erin Healy and Lauren Elwer almost connected twice for breakaway scores but were just barely beat out by BYU's defense.
“The only thing I think we could have worked on was speed, training in the off-season,” Watkins said. “They just had us beat, they were faster than us.”
Shot accuracy and good defense by BYU also may have contributed to this loss. GU had 14 total shots on goal throughout the game. However, only 7 of those were on goal, and all of them were blocked. In previous games where Gonzaga had 14 or more shots, they scored at least twice each time.
“They just got out into space and transitioned their shots better and got us,” Watkins said.
This was certainly an emotional game for all the players. Out of the 21 girls on the team, nine of them are seniors. The team spent a long time huddled together on the field after the game taking in the loss and the emotions surrounding playing this last home game.
“It’s emotional for sure,” senior Madeline Gotta said. “We gave it our best. There wasn’t a player on that field who was not giving it 100% tonight.”