Cougars beat Utes behind Tucker's Hat Trick
HERRIMAN, Utah — Led by a hat trick from Cameron Tucker, BYU women’s soccer opened the 2020-21 season with an impressive 5-1 win over in-state rival Utah at the Zions Bank Real Academy on Saturday.
“It was a great performance by our girls,” BYU head coach Jennifer Rockwood said. “We had a great week of practice preparing for Utah. It's crazy times, crazy season; Utah in February, but the girls showed up and we scored some nice goals tonight. Anytime you put five goals in, the coaches are happy, everybody is happy, and we're ready to look forward to the next game.”
The Cougars got started early with Tucker scoring in the fifth minute to put BYU up 1-0. Minutes later the Cougars almost made it 2-0 off a corner kick, but Olivia Wade’s shot went wide left.
The Utes would capitalize and tie it up soon after on a cross into the box that Anna Escobedo put home, tying it up at 1-1.
The Cougars would then score three goals, each five minutes apart to break the game open. In the 27th minute, Rachel McCarthy netted one for BYU, rebounding a Tucker shot that bounced off the Utes’ keeper SJ Edward’s hands, putting the Cougars up 2-1.
BYU scored again in the 32nd minute as Olivia Smith went end line, kicking it off of Utah’s Makayla Christensen for an own goal credited to Cougar Bella Folino and giving BYU a two-goal advantage.
Tucker scored her second goal of the night in transition off an assist from McCarthy in the 37th, putting the Cougars up 4-1, which was the lead they would take into the half.
The Utes threatened in the 52nd minute with a shot off a cross into the box, but BYU keeper Cassidy Smith saved the shot. Utah had another look in the 64th minute but Courtney Talbot’s shot went just high.
Tucker put the Cougars up 5-1 in the 74th minute off a set piece that ended with the ball deep in the box and resulted in Tucker completing a hat trick with her third goal of the night.
BYU had a few more opportunities in the closing minutes but would eventually close out the 5-1 victory over the Utes.
The Cougars will head to the west coast next week to face two more Pac 12 teams in UCLA on Friday, Feb. 12 at 5 p.m. PST, and USC on Monday, Feb. 15, at 3 p.m. PST.
Head coach Jennifer Rockwood
On how the team responded after the equalizer
"We came out strong. One of the things we talked about before this game was to do a better job of getting a little quicker to the ball. Anytime you take a little breather like we did on that throw in, crazy things can happen in soccer. That's really the only look we gave up but you just never know when the goal can come so it's a good lesson to learn. Utah did a good job and kind of got back in it, and we had to refocus. I thought the girls did a really good job of refocusing and not getting frustrated by that and coming back out."
On Cameron Tucker's performance tonight
"Cam had a great year last year and we know she's gonna have a real big breakout year this year. She's so capable of scoring goals, so hard to contain. Once she gets in the box, she can score goals and she's proved that already in our first two matches. I just love her energy. The team is very confident in her, we're trying to find her the ball. I'm just really looking forward to seeing her progress throughout the season, but I think she's gonna score a lot of goals for us this year."
On the rivalry with Utah
"I always love our rivalry games against the Utes. These girls know each other, they grew up playing high school together and club together, so there's just a little bit more of an edge I think when you play your rivalry game. You know, first game of the season, that doesn't happen very often, so it's something to really look forward to. I thought we played well. There's a lot of emotions that go into this game and pressure and I thought our girls reacted really well to it and I think it just really propels us. We'll be tested a lot next weekend when we play UCLA and USC. It will be a weekend form us to see where we are and what we need to improve, but really look forward to taking on two of the best teams in the country next weekend."
Senior forward Cameron Tucker
On the experience of playing Utah
"The Utah game is super fun. There's a lot of girls from Utah on their team so we know a lot of girls and it's a super fun, competitive game. It was a lot of fun to be out there tonight."
On the team's early response
"I felt like we did a really good job responding, obviously getting scored on isn't ideal, but we always know that no matter what we should just keep on going and we have a goal to score at least three goals a game. We knew that once they scored on us to just keep going, no matter what."
On the different dynamic this season and finally being able to play
"Luckily for us, even though COVID was happening, we got to continue to play. Throughout the offseason, we've been playing with each other. I definitely see benefits because usually in the fall, the new freshmen come in and you have a month to prepare. We lost some players last year that were key for us, so having this time to get that team chemistry has been crucial for us. It's been awesome."
The Cougars took the field for the first time of the 2023 season Saturday night for the annual Blue vs White game.…