BYU started their MCLA championship run a little slow, but came out in the second half firing on all cylinders to secure a first round win against the Oregon State Beavers, 7 to 5.
OSU drew first blood with an opening face-off win and fast break score. The Cougars shook it off, getting into their rhythm and tying it up with a goal from Chase Miller. The Beavers went ahead midway through the first quarter, and BYU tied it on a second goal from Andrew Bertha in the second quarter. Oregon went ahead just before the half, taking a 3 to 2 lead and a little momentum into half time.
Cougar face-off specialist Jack Vassua came out of the break inspired and began winning the bulk of the draws with the help of excellent wing work from Chase Paulsen and Max Neser. BYU’s midfield defense, led by Connor Williams, Buck Howard, and Max Ash, shut down OSU’s transition game, and pesky long pole defense from Harrison Wardle, Boston Handley, and Devin Needs stymied the Beavers’ attack. BYU got two third-quarter goals from Chris Severson–one on a rare extra man opportunity, and also got one from Andrew Bertha and another from Miller on a substitution fast break. The Cougars shut out Oregon State in the third quarter, taking a 6 to 3 lead into the final period.
OSU nearly turned the momentum when they scored about three minutes into the fourth, and then again on a man-up opportunity, bringing them to within one, 6 to 5. But the Cougars wanted this win too badly; BYU’s defense went on lock down, wrap checking, stripping and returning the ball to their offense, and Severson secured the final outcome with a worm-burner through traffic with just over two minutes to play. OSU went into desperation offense, but BYU’s stingy defenders would not let them get a decent shot off. Goalie Matt Brandenburg was solid, gobbling up the Beavers’ attempts, and the Cougars came out on top, 7 to 5.
BYU started the tournament a little shaky, maybe even nervous, but finished strong with stepped-up defense and determined second-half offense. They were probably benefitted from loud, continuous support from the Cougar faithful who showed up in impressive numbers.
BYU will face Georgia Tech on Tuesday, May 10th at 6:45 in the quarter finals.