Cougars fall to Tar Heels 3-2 in Sweet 16 battle
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — After a hard-fought battle on Saturday afternoon, BYU women’s soccer fell to the UNC Tar Heels 3-2 in the Sweet 16, ending the 2022 season.
“It’s always tough to lose, especially when it ends your season,” said head coach Jennifer Rockwood. “We have had such a fantastic season and we have come so far. We were up against a very good, very talented North Carolina team and I think we gave them all they could barely handle. I really thought we could get that tying goal there at the end with all our momentum, but hats off to UNC because they are a fantastic team. It’s so fun for our girls to be out here in such a great environment for college women’s soccer. I’m really proud of this team, and we have a lot to look forward to in the future with all the experience we gained this year and so many girls returning next season.”
For just the second time this year, the Cougars were out-shot on the pitch. UNC out-shot BYU 19-10 in today’s match, and also led in goals on frame with nine to BYU’s six. Both team’s goalkeeper’s posted crucial saves, with Savanna Mason recording six and Carolina's Emmie Allen with four. Cougar midfielder Olivia Wade and freshman forward Allie Fryer scored the two goals for BYU in today's matchup.
Both BYU and UNC came onto the pitch with strong offensive pressure, but it was the Cougars who saw the first good look with a Bella Folino shot off a corner kick, forcing a diving save by Allen.
The Tar Heels answered back in the seventh minute with a dangerous shot inside BYU’s penalty box, missing just right of the post. North Carolina continued to press BYU’s backline, and were the first up on the board with a Talia Dellapuruta goal in the 13th minute for the 1-0 lead.
In the ensuing minutes, the Cougars ramped up their defensive game to find the equalizer in the 19th minute. Folino ran all the way back into BYU’s defensive half to steal the ball from a UNC player and send the ball up the pitch to Wade, who dribbled the ball into the 18 and fired a left-footed shot to find the back of the net, bringing the score to 1-1. The goal marked Wade’s second of the NCAA tournament and ninth of the 2022 season.
With five minutes remaining in the first half, UNC’s Madeline Dahlien rocketed a shot from the top of the penalty box, punched out by BYU's Mason.
Both offenses played an aggressive first half, with eight shots by the Tar Heels and six shots from the Cougars, with three a piece shot on frame. Both team's defensive lines and goalkeepers posted important saves, holding the score at a 1-1 draw heading into halftime.
UNC came into the second half with an even tighter press on BYU’s backline as the Cougars struggled clearing the ball out of their defensive third. A line-drive shot from UNC forced Mason to make her third save of the match in the 56th minute.
In the 58th minute, a UNC cross found the head of Avery Patterson, punched out by Mason. Despite the save off the first shot, North Carolina’s Dahlien found the back of the net on the follow-up, putting the Tar Heels back on top 2-1.
The Tar Heels continued to put the pressure on, finding the back of the net to extend their lead 3-1 in the 65th minute. Dahlien put the ball between the posts for her second goal of the match with a left-footed shot that bounced under the arms of Mason.
As the Cougars fought back, a long ball was sent down the field to Fryer, who collected and rocketed a shot from outside the 18, sending the ball into the back of the net in the 69th minute to close the gap 3-2. Fryer’s goal against the Tar Heels marks her ninth goal as a true freshman for BYU.
With the Cougars fighting for another goal to tie up the game, the Tar Heels looked to widen the gap with two more dangerous shots defended well by BYU. With just four minutes remaining in regulation, a well-placed cross by Zoe Jacobs found the head of Rachel McCarthy, tipped over to Fryer for a shot saved by Allen.
Despite a final push by the Cougars, they were unable to capitalize on their shots, falling to the UNC Tar Heels 3-2 in the Sweet 16 on Dorrance Field.
The Cougars finished their 2022 season with an 11-3-7 record, going undefeated in West Coast Conference play, 6-0-3. This season marks the fifth year in a row with five losses or less, dating back to 2018 After making it to the College Cup finals in 2021, this tournament appearance marks back-to-back seasons with the Cougars in the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history, and sixth time overall. Brecken Mozingo finished the 2022 season with the most goals (12), assists (10), points (34) and shots (109) for BYU.
BYU women’s soccer head coach Jennifer Rockwood has announced the promotion of Brent Anderson to associate head coach.