It was a tale of two halves at the RMWLL Regional Finals on Saturday afternoon in Provo, Utah, between the BYU Cougars and Colorado Buffaloes.
The scoring started slow and sparse, but a second-half offensive clinic put on by Tess Anderson would help lead the Cougars to the 12-5 victory.
Colorado got on the board first during their second possession of the game to take the 1-0 lead. However, Heather Haight would would score a goal right off of the ensuing draw, taking the ball down the length of the field while taking a blow to the head, to bury it past the Colorado goalie.
PHOTOS: See the full image gallery from the BYU v. Colorado RMWLL Finals here.
Tess Anderson then scored her first of six goals on the day, for BYU to take the 2-1 lead. While Colorado would tie the score again at two, the Cougars would never trail again for the remainder of the game.
Brigham Young head coach Nikki Dabrowski was nothing but positive about Anderson’s performance.
“She had an amazing game yesterday, which I think translated into today,” Dabrowski said. “We had one of our top scorers get injured when we were at Mile High. I think Tess just recognized we had to make up points somewhere. She has this amazing ability to draw fouls without charging.”
Then, Dabrowski joked, “I think she got it from basketball, because I definitely don’t know how to teach that.”
BYU would take the 4-2 lead at half, with Colorado still in striking distance. However, BYU would go on an 8-2 run in the second to put things away. The game ended with the Cougars on top, 12-5.
According to Dabrowski, the Cougars made some key adjustments at halftime.
“We made an adjustment to our offense. We started to play a camper, which pulled that backer back into the eight,” Dabrowski said. “Then we actually started to play a double camper so that they really had to scramble to try to stay in front of our players. We scored on them once or twice, which forced them to go into their pressure defense. From there, we just hit the gaps as much as we could.”
Not only was the Cougars offense hot, but the defense remained stingy for the length of the game as well.
“Their style actually caters very well to what we practice often, which is a high-pressure defense. At times we were able to cause some turnovers and force bad passes,” remarked Dabrowski.
After a successful 2018 campaign that saw the Cougars win regionals as well, Dabrowski saw the potential for this year’s squad as well.
“I don’t want to say that we tried to put the pressure on our girls that we wouldn’t accept anything else, but I think we tried to make our girls feel capable of winning regionals a second time,” Dabrowski said. “They definitely performed this weekend.”
With the regional title secure, the Cougars have nabbed an automatic qualifying spot in the WCLA national tournament.
Last year’s WCLA tournament in Texas saw the Cougars fall to an undefeated Michigan, 11-7, in the national title game. This year, the Cougars are hungry for more, with this year’s national tournament being held in Virginia Beach, Virginia, May 8-11.
“Last year, we lost some depth during the season,” Dabrowski said. “One thing we’re really trying to be cautiously aware of is really being intentional about playing time, even in practice. … We just lost steam at nationals last year and we hope that this year, with a little bit of a deeper bench and a little more confidence we’ll be ready to take on the top teams in the nation.”
The Cougars will travel to Virginia Beach to face an opponent that is yet to be determined.