Defense was the name of the game in BYU’s early-season win against Simon Fraser. The Clan had its moments, even leading the contest early in the second quarter, but the Coug’s defense took over and shut The Clan down, giving BYU the 12-8 victory.
The game started with a face-off win and shot from SFU. Cougar Goalie Matt Brandenburg saved and cleared to his offense. BYU took a shot, and was denied by SFU Goalie Jeremy Lashar. Back on offense, The Clan showed their patience and excellent passing skills, and eventually Lyndon Knuttila drew first blood. BYU responded in kind with the next face and a fast-break goal from Chase Miller. Jack Vassau took control of the next draw, and after a couple of turnovers for both teams, BYU had possession, patiently passing until Andrew McKinley found Josh Tunick for goal number two. The Clan gained possession and passed around the outer perimeter looking for the perfect opportunity. They found it when Tyler Kirkby fed Greg Lunde, and the game was all knotted up. SFU took control again and Knuttila assisted Kirkby to take the lead. After a face-off win by The Clan, BYU midfielder Connor Williams picked the ball out of the air, sprinted down field and hit Chris Severson, who tied it up. At the end of one it was 3 to 3.
Simon Fraser started the second with another draw and a quick, fast-break score from Troy Boucher taking the lead. The Cougars gained possession, but defensive pressure from midfielders Jordan Lashar and Tom Newton forced a turnover. BYU got it back, but quickly turned it over again. Newton sprinted downfield, passed to Lunde who ripped from center field, and increased The Clan’s lead to two. The Cougars came up with the next face and executed well, finishing with a goal from Andrew Bertha assisted by Tunick. SFU committed its first foul as McKinely snatched a pass from Severson, finishing strong and tying the game at five. The Cougars had the man advantage easily winning the face off, and sent a strong message when Calvin Wiley ripped twine from ten yards out. SFU’s Jeremy Lashar turned away the next Cougar attempt, and sent the ball back to his offense, but Cougar defender Boston Handley picked a pocket returning the rock to McKinley who found Winston Farley on the left crease. Farley athletically dived and scored giving the Cougs a two-goal lead. Vassau commanded the draw, pitching it to Handley who passed to Miller, and Severson found the net again ripping one front and center. BYU went to half with an 8 to 5 lead.
BYU won the first draw of the second half, and had a couple of shots deftly turned away by SFU Goalie Lashar. Newton came up big scoring unassisted and bringing The Clan within two. SFU grabbed the next face, and Jordan Gabrielle came from around X dodging and scoring unassisted. It was eight to seven. Both defenses hunkered down, and the third quarter funk set in. Excellent defensive work from Cougar long poles Quentin Willey, Harrison Wardle, and Spencer Simpson thwarted a couple of SFU man-up opportunities, and The Clan’s Alex Thomson, Matthew Bailey and Newton returned same-for-same. Brandenburg and Lashar turned away shot after shot. The third quarter ended with BYU facing a man-down situation. SFU tried to capitalize, but the Cougar defense recovered the ball, and Cougar middie Spencer Taylor sprinted and dodged around the right crease scoring unassisted. He was fouled, and the Cougars burned the remaining clock third quarter clock. At the end of three the Cougars held a tenuous lead 9 to 7.
BYU started the fourth in extra-man offense. Farley had the shot of the game from left low-to-high piping off the right corner and ricocheting in. Max Ash gave the Cougars some critical defensive help in the fourth with a couple of key take-aways. The Clan tried to get back in the game, and pulled within three when Knuttila scored assisted by Braden Hoggarth, but it was too little, too late. BYU controlled the face-off and the clock, playing keep away for the remaining minutes. After a timeout called by Simon Fraser, the Cougars executed late-game offense, and ended with one last shot on open goal by Severson.
Key defensive contributors from Simon Fraser were Mackenzie Terrio, AJ Vido, Quinton Donaldson and James Irwin. This team can pass and their offense including Tibor Van den Wildenburgh, Lunde and Jordan Lashar controlled the ball very well, but the Cougar’s merciless defensive squad was too much to overcome. BYU benefitted from a team effort, excellent midfield play from Max Nesser and Connor Williams, and consistent, unrelenting defensive pressure.
Next up for Simon Fraser is Boise State on February 21st. The Cougars have a bye week, and will head to Las Vegas the first weekend in March to take on Chapman and San Diego State.