SAN DIEGO -- The BYU women's soccer team ended an era of frustration against San Diego State Saturday, beating the Aztecs, 2-1, in sudden-death overtime to claim the first-ever Mountain West Conference championship.
The game was a battle from beginning to end. San Diego State struck first, scoring just 18 minutes into play. Despite recording 10 shot attempts in the first half, the Cougars could not respond until midway through the second half, when junior Sara Reading netted a penalty kick to even the score at 1-1.
BYU held the Aztecs to just one shot in the second half to force a sudden death overtime period. Six minutes into overtime, Reading headed a shot from Staci Reynolds, which was then tipped in by Kim Lowe to give the Cougars the win.
"We outshot them, we outplayed them, we outhustled them," BYU coach Jennifer Rockwood said. "Give them credit, though, they stayed in it the whole game."
BYU outshot San Diego State 27-5 in the contest, but got just two shots to fall for scores.
"Their goalkeeper played an incredible game," Rockwood said. "She made some tremendous saves and stopped some shots that in any normal game would have fallen."
The victory was especially sweet for the Cougars, who had previously suffered several heartbreaking defeats to the Aztecs. The Cougars dropped a regular season meeting to San Diego State earlier this season, and lost in overtime to the Aztecs in last season's WAC title game. The Cougars had never beaten the Aztecs in San Diego before Saturday.
"It doesn't get much better than this," Rockwood said. "Our number one goal this season was to win the conference championship, and we accomplished it."
Senior All-American Maren Hendershot was named the tournament MVP. She was also the MVP of last year's WAC Tournament. Teammates Staci Reynolds and Sara Reading joined Hendershot on the all-tournament team.
The conference title was the third for BYU since joining the Mountain West Conference. With the men's and women's cross country teams each capturing conference crowns last weekend, the Cougars have won all three Mountain West Conference championships conducted so far this year.
Despite winning the conference title, BYU is not guaranteed a spot in the NCAA Tournament, as the Mountain West Conference champion does not have an automatic berth this year. With its No. 20 national ranking and the NCAA's earlier decision to allow teams into the tournament who do not play on Sundays, the Cougars should receive an invitation to the tournament and could likely host a first round contest in Provo. The NCAA Tournament seedings will be announced Sunday evening.