The BYU Cougars showed up at the Santa Barbara Shootout ready to play, as evidenced by their 3-0 record. Last year, the Cougs also went undefeated, claiming the victory in all four of the games in which they competed.
Constant rain and cold temperatures on Friday weren’t exactly what the teams had hoped for from the Southern California weather. Undaunted, BYU went into their first game against Texas confidently. Typical aggressiveness on behalf of the Cougars and tighter-than-usual reffing had the team at eight yellow cards before the game was out. During the second half, the Cougars played man-down for nearly 18 consecutive minutes. Not to be deterred by the low numbers, BYU still managed to come out on top with a score of 12-11. Eight different players scored goals, and Junior Natalie Bulgier recorded yet another hat trick for the 2019 season.
Later in the afternoon, Virginia Tech posed another challenge for the Cougars. The weather unrelenting, both teams played on with cold hands and wet cleats. BYU cleaned up their play significantly, resulting in fewer yellow cards and a more continuous play situation. Neck and neck the whole way, BYU maintained their lead long enough to overcome Virginia. True to form, a wide array of BYU offensive and midfield players contributed to the score—six players bagged at least one goal. Heather Haight and Shannon Baker each had three goals or more.
BYU played their most important game the following morning. Colorado University is another member of the conference that BYU is part of. Winning conference games is essential because it determines the seeding for regionals and affects the potential for winning a bid to nationals.
Warm and sunny weather was a welcome change from the previous day’s downpour. As BYU’s 3rd game of the tournament and CU’s 1st, the Cougars entered the game tired but experienced. From the outset, it was clear which team dominated. BYU, even with tired legs, outran CU and their deep bench. The Cougar’s defense was on fire; CU could not get a close shot on goal. BYU capitalized on every mistake made by CU, as was reflected in the final score: 11-3. Eight different players scored—a happy high note on which to end the tournament.
The Cougar’s next game will be against region rival University of Utah on March 2nd in Salt Lake City.