On a beautiful night for soccer under the lights at Luger Field, the No. 16 Gonzaga women’s soccer team (10-2-1, 0-1-0 West Coast Conference) lost to BYU (6-3-1, 1-0-0 WCC) by a score of 6-1. In the process, BYU broke a program record eight game win streak for the Zags.
Coming into the Zags second straight home game as a nationally ranked opponent and a program best 16th rank nationally, fans came out in droves under the dark night sky that created a raucous environment for the opening WCC match for both teams.
The game started off with a high energy from both teams, with neither dictating control of the game within the first five minutes. This changed in the seventh minute when BYU gained possession in their attacking third where a dangerous ball split through the Zags back line and allowed BYU sophomore forward Brecken Mozingo to score her first of two goals in the game.
From this point on, the Cougars dominated possession, flow and tempo of the game for much of the first half, and the goals continued to come in. In the 11th minute, BYU sophomore forward Bella Folino deflected in a clearance attempt from the Zags off the crossbar to give the traveling Cougars an early 2-0 lead.
The pressure continued for the Cougars after the second goal, where Mozingo tallied her second goal of the night on a left footed strike from 25 yards out. This was followed up in the 14th minute by a goal from senior forward Cameron Tucker for BYU which Zag junior goalkeeper Lyza Bosselmann was able to push into the post but was not able to keep for trickling over the goal line.
The Zags found their first action on goal from a set piece in the 19th minute. GU had their counterattack stopped with a hard foul just outside the 18-yard box giving the Zags a freekick from a great distance. Zag captain and Junior midfielder Sophia Braun rung the far post with her freekick, inches from giving the Zags a much-needed lifeline.
BYU once again found the back of the net in the 32nd minute, breaking the game open 5-0. The Zags managed their first shot on target in the 40th minute on a low shot from freshman forward Marissa Garcia.
This chance was as close as the Zags would come to scoring in the first half before a BYU foul in the penalty box gave the Zags a penalty kick on the stroke of half time which was calmly slotted in by senior defender Haley Archuleta. This would give the Zags some much needed confidence going into halftime down 5-1.
The Zags came out of halftime the same way they started the game, and with a certain passion and aggression that was lacking during part of the first half. In his halftime talk, the Zags head coach Chris Watkins stressed the importance to the team of “Being us,” Watkins said. “The girls came out really excited in the first half, maybe too excited, and we had to get back to doing what we do best and be us.”
To start off the second half, the Zags enjoyed a much more enjoyable stint of possession and flow than any time in the first half. Getting back to their DNA and quick breaks of attack is what the Zags had been looking for all night.
In the first five minute of the second half the Zags registered as many shots on goal as they did in the first half combined. In the 51st minute of the game, the first yellow card of the game was handed out to BYU sophomore midfielder Rachel McCarthy for an intentional handball to stop the run of play.
After the stop in play due to the handball, BYU gained momentum on the counterattack and were able to stretch out the left side of the Zags defense before finding senior midfielder Mikayla Colohan at the top of the box who passed it into the bottom right corner to make the score 6-1.
Possession remained in the Zags favor for the remainder of the second half, but they did not find the key to crack the code of the Cougar defense. The Zags managed to generate four second half corners and eight shots, but never tested senior goalkeeper Cassidy Smith enough. Bosselmann, despite the score line, made multiple saves throughout the game to keep the Zags in it for as long as they did.
Looking ahead, the Zags play the University of Portland (4-5-1, 0-1-0 WCC) on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in Portland. However bad the loss stings initially for the Zags, there are still positives that can be taken from the loss.
“I thought we showed our depth well tonight,” Watkins said. “We have been looking for where we can get minutes for girls off the bench, so even in a loss like this one, we can still take that as a positive moving forward.”