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Cougars Outlast Hokies, 2-0, In First Round

Cougars Outlast Hokies, 2-0, In First Round

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PROVO, Utah (Nov. 13, 2008) - A closely contested NCAA Tournament match between the BYU Cougars and Virginia Tech Hokies resulted in a 2-0 victory for the Cougars in front of an energized home crowd Thursday night at South Field.

The competition was equally balanced in the first half with both teams managing five shots. The Hokies were at an advantage partway through the half with four shots on goal to the Cougars' one. However, three close shots from Cougars Auna Janis and Lauren Anderson evened the count.

The Hokies won the corner kick battle as they had seven to the Cougars' one in the opening 45 minutes. For three of those kicks, McKinzie Olson made big stops, saving in traffic or knocking the ball over the post. Olson finished the first half with four saves.

With five minutes before the half, forward Kassidy Christensen got behind the Hokie defenders on a breakaway Cougar possession and put the shot into the right corner of the net for a 1-0 BYU lead.

"I got through and was just able to stay calm and composed," Christensen said about the goal. "I just snuck it into the corner and it went in."

The Cougars came out strong in the second half with a barrage of shots on goal, matching Virginia Tech's first half amount with four. Jennie Marshall got things going for the BYU offense with two consecutive shots on goal in the opening minutes.

With the increased sense of urgency in the second half, both squads played more physical as evidenced with one yellow card from each side. Kassidy Christensen and Laurie Puglisi were charged for the physical play. Both teams received nine fouls in the game.

In the 76th minute, BYU made a key substitution, putting in Katie Larkin and forward Becca Riddle in for Christensen and Marshall. Riddle had an open shot on goal blocked by the Hokies goalkeeper Kristin Carden immediately upon her arrival.

On the next possession, Riddle received the ball just outside the Hokie box and proceeded to pass it to an open Alyssa Vander Veur. She then passed the ball on to a trailing Larkin who put the ball into the upper left corner of the net.

The Cougars finished the game with 13 shots compared to Virginia Tech's seven. The Hokies continued to battle for goals with corner kicks, but to no avail as the Cougar defense and keeper Olson managed to hold them scoreless.

BYU was determined to stop Hokie Emily Jurkich, who made 15 goals during the season, and fellow forward Julian Johnson, who had 9 assists throughout the year. Jurkich was held without a shot in the game.

"We knew she had had a great season," said BYU defender Andrea Willis. "We were able to step up and I think she got a little frustrated and out of her zone."

The team also gave credit to the crowd.

"It was so exciting to play at home again," Larkin said. "I've also considered the crowd to be another person on our team and we just fed off they positive energy the provided."

BYU moves on to play USC this Saturday at 12:00 p.m. at South Field. USC moved into the second round by beating Boston University by the score of 2-0.

"USC is the defending national champions," BYU head coach Jennifer Rockwood said. "It gives us another chance to showcase how we play and we'll do our best to prepare for them."

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