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PROVO — BYU women’s soccer coach Jennifer Rockwood knows her team is young, with 18 underclassmen, and that it just came off its first road win of the year at Tennessee on Friday night.
But that doesn’t excuse the 2-1 loss to Baylor on Monday in front of 4,517 fans at South Field in a Labor Day matinee, she said.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed with the result,” Rockwood said. “We had such great support, and we didn’t give the fans what they came to see. I give a lot of credit to Baylor; they came in and knocked us around in the first 45 minutes. For some reason, we weren’t ready to start this game.”
The loss snapped BYU's seven-game home unbeaten streak, and marked the Cougars' first regular-season loss since last October at Santa Clara.
The Bears (3-1-0) did all of their scoring immediately on either side of halftime as Justine Hovden tallied her first goal of the season with 50 seconds remaining in the first half and Precious Akiniyirige opening her 2014 account with a goal barely 33 seconds after the break.
Hovden’s goal was a classic moment against the run of play. No. 23 BYU (1-1-2) outshot Baylor 5-2 in the first 45 minutes, but Hovden turned 30 yards from goal and blasted a shot that dipped at the last second into the upper 90 past goalkeeper Kat Snyder for the opening score.
Obviously, we’re disappointed with the result. We had such great support, and we didn’t give the fans what they came to see. I give a lot of credit to Baylor; they came in and knocked us around in the first 45 minutes. For some reason, we weren’t ready to start this game.
–BYU head coach Jennifer Rockwood
Akiniyirige capitalized on a giveaway in the BYU defensive third on the first touches of the second half, and her left-footed chip sailed over goalkeeper Hannah Clark for what would be the game-winner.
The Cougars, who took down Tennessee 1-0 on Friday night via Elena Medeiros’ goal in the first half, didn’t open up with the energy needed in their return to South Field on the day before BYU’s fall semester began.
“We just needed to be ready, and a little bit more mentally disciplined in the first half,” Rockwood said. “They think great things are going to happen on this field because we’ve had such success, but it’s a young team, and they’ve got to learn to be a little bit more mentally tough.”
But BYU found a late spark from several players as the Cougars worked to get back into the game. Marissa Nimmer had two shots, including a shot on goal on her first touch as a substitute in the 29th minute.
Sophomore forward Ashley Hatch nearly struck in the 65th minute, but her left-footed blast crashed off the left post and ricocheted off the right post before Baylor goalkeeper Michelle Kloss dove on it in front of goal for one of her seven saves of the shutout.
“They battled hard. We take a lot of pride in being a high-pressure team, and they gave us a little bit of our own medicine,” Rockwood said of Baylor, which finished with five shots and 17 fouls. “We were a little bit too risky in the back … and they were very aggressive, beating us to the ball in the first 20-30 minutes. We weren’t able to recover for the second half.”
Bizzy Phillips struck from the penalty spot in the 89th minute for BYU’s lone tally after Medeiros’ shot hit a Baylor defender in the arm for a handball.
The freshman Phillips, the younger sister of Utah place-kicker Andy Phillips, took the cue from her coach and gently placed the ball into the lower right corner of the net as BYU threw one of its nine second-half chances forward.
“I just felt honored that coach told me to go take it,” said Phillips, who had three shots on goal along with her penalty. “I was really excited. I knew I was going to score, but it’s unfortunate it was in the 89th minute and we ran out of time.”
BYU travels to Salt Lake City on Friday to face rival Utah in the two teams' lone meeting of the season. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. MDT and will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Network and the Cougar IMG Sports radio network.