PROVO — Cameron Tucker has a job with BYU women’s soccer.
It’s dirty, it’s grimey, and it often involves doing a lot of dirty work in the Cougars’ three-pronged attacking triangle that features 20 goal-scorer Elise Flake and West Coast Conference Player of the Year Mikayla Colohan.
But sometimes — occasionally — that job comes with a little bit of glory. Saturday night was one of those nights.
Tucker scored two goals, including the match-winner, and goalkeeper Sabrina Davis made them stand up to lead No. 4 BYU women’s soccer to a 3-0 win over North Carolina State in front of an announced crowd of 3,621 fans in the third round of the NCAA Tournament at South Field.
And that match-winner? It came less than 12 minutes after the opening kick.
“We were really excited to get going,” said Tucker, who has five goals and two assists in three tournament matches. “Everytime we score early in the game, we’re doing something right — and it makes the rest of the game easier. We were really anticipating going to go right from the very beginning.”
Josie Guinn added a goal for BYU (21-0-1), which advanced to its third national quarterfinal in program history and first since 2012.
“I’m really proud of these girls,” BYU coach Jennifer Rockwood said. “They’re so fun to be around, and worked so hard to get to this point against a very talented and very organized NC State team. We came out in the first half really confident and really composed, and scoring two goals in the first half really helps. It was a great effort tonight.”
Tucker gave the Cougars an early lead in the 12th minute, slotting home a ball across the face of goal before striking paydirt. Mikayla Colohan found the Lone Peak product on the right side, and Tucker — who anticipated a header in the moment — lofted home the first goal from the near the penalty area.
BYU’s defense held North Carolina State without a shot for most of the first half, until Leyah Hall-Robinson’s attempt sailed over the crossbar with just under three minutes remaining.
By then, Guinn had already doubled the Cougars’ lead. The junior winger took a pass along the seam from center mid Ashton Brockbank, cut inside her defender, and ripped a curler that she’s practiced every day in practice underneath the crossbar for her second goal of the season.
Just like she drew it up.
In a season with 80 goals, the scoring came from anywhere.
“I’ve been wanting to score for a while now,” Guinn said. “I’m always trying to get up the field; the most fun time to play soccer is when you don’t have to defend a bunch. If I make the forward have to defend me, that’s the best situation.”
Davis rose up to make her first save moments later when Ricarda Walkling tried to rip a shot over her 5-foot, 5-inch frame on the other end; the senior netminder finished the night with seven stops — all in the second half.
It was the kind of goalkeeping performance worthy of her back line in Alyssa Jefferson, Danika Serassio, SaraJayne Affleck and Rachel Lyman.
“I hate whenever Sab has to make a save, but I can always count on her,” Jefferson said. “I know it’s my fault, but I just look at her and know I can count on her. I might be biased, but she always plays great. She’s always ready and guiding us, and she really sets the tone for us. “When we fall into a lull she tells us to focus, to play clean, and to be disciplined.”
The Cougars will await the winner of top-seeded Stanford and Penn State, which will contest the Stanford Regional final Sunday at 2 p.m. MST. If the Cardinal (20-1) win, the Cougars will travel to the Bay Area next weekend for the right to move on to the NCAA College Cup in San Jose, California.