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BYU's Cameron Tucker, center, celebrates her first goal with her teammates during the Cougars' season opener Saturday, Feb. 6, 2021 at the RSL indoor training facility in Herriman.

Nate Edwards, BYU Photo

Cameron Tucker's hat trick helps No. 10 BYU soccer roll to season-opening win over Utah

By Sean Walker, KSL.com | Posted - Feb. 6, 2021 at 7:39 p.m.


8 photos

HERRIMAN — The BYU women's soccer team has a goal to score three goals per match, knowing that doing so will give the Cougars a good chance of beating almost anybody.

Cameron Tucker accomplished that goal in Saturday's season opener — by herself.

Tucker scored a hat trick and Rachel McCarthy added a goal and an assist as the No. 10-ranked Cougars rolled to a 5-1 win over Utah in the spring season opener for both teams at the RSL indoor training facility.

Anna Escobedo scored for the Utes (0-1), who also had an own goal that went against them.

But the star of the show was Tucker, the senior who netted the second hat trick of her BYU career that has produced 21 goals across four seasons.

"Cam's someone who has lots of expectations," said BYU coach Jennifer Rockwood, whose team improved to 23-7-2 all-time against their in-state rivals. "We're excited for her; she had a great year last year, and we know she's going to have a great year this year.

"A lot of what we do is try to find her high and central. Once she gets in the box, she can score goals. She's proven that already in the first two matches."

It took less than 10 minutes for Tucker to strike, too. The 5-foot-9 Lone Peak product opened the scoring in the sixth minute, finishing off a one-touch cross into the box from Ashton Johnson to put the Cougars up 1-0.

And that wouldn't be the last chance for BYU (1-0), either.

Olivia Wade nearly doubled the advantage a few minutes later, but her redirected attempt of Brecken Mozingo's corner kick hit just outside the far post. BYU had more offside calls (two) than the Utes had shots in the first 15 minutes.

But the Utes equalized in the 18th minute, converting a quickly taken throw-in deep in BYU's half of the pitch into Escobedo's goal to tie the match at 1-1. That reset the game — but only for about 10 minutes.

McCarthy gave the lead back to BYU in the 28th minute. Tucker's breakaway was stonewalled, but the rebound fell to McCarthy, who slid the advantageous ball into the back of the net.

"I felt like we did a really good job responding," Tucker said. "Getting scored on isn't ideal. But we know that we just have to keep going.

"I think we knew once they scored on us."

BYU forward Cameron Tucker in the season opener against Utah, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2021 at the RSL indoor training facility in Herriman.
BYU forward Cameron Tucker in the season opener against Utah, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2021 at the RSL indoor training facility in Herriman. (Photo: Nate Edwards, BYU Photo)

Bella Folino set up the Cougars' third goal of the match five minutes later with a chaotic spot that was later ruled an own goal by Utah's Makayla Christensen inside the six-yard box, and the Cougars turned a stalemate through 20 minutes into a 4-1 advantage by halftime.

BYU goalkeeper Cassidy Smith made a pair of back-to-back saves six minutes into the second half, and Tucker scored in the 73rd minute to complete the hat trick against the first of three-straight Pac-12 opponents to open the Cougars' abbreviated spring season.

"We're trying to play the best teams we can, and then playing the Pac-12 is the best we can do," Tucker said. "It's awesome to have these teams so close in the Pac-12 that we can play."

Coming off one of the best seasons in program history, the Cougars rolled to a 21-1-1 record in 2019 that ended in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals against Stanford before the coronavirus pandemic postponed the 2020 season from the fall.

BYU finished No. 5 nationally following the tournament, a spot that dropped to No. 10 after a handful of conferences played shortened seasons during the fall. Led by Hermann Trophy candidate and NWSL draft pick Mikayla Colohan, the Cougars returned for the spring season that will feature three Pac-12 teams, including the Utes, UCLA and USC, before playing a full West Coast Conference schedule beginning Feb. 20.

"UCLA and USC are great teams, and we know they will be tough," Tucker said. "But I think it will be great for us, to see where we're at. We know they are going to be great games."

The Cougars will kick off against UCLA next Friday, Feb. 12, before facing USC the following Monday, Feb. 15.

BYU opens WCC play Saturday, Feb. 20 at San Diego. The home opener is a week later, Feb. 27 against San Francisco in Herriman.

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