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Defense Saves BYU Against Arizona State

They say defense wins games. That was the story of BYU vs Arizona State on March 12th on the North University Field at BYU. Outstanding defensive play from the Cougars in the last minute of the game, despite being man down, and a brilliant save helped BYU beat a fast, hungry Arizona State team, 8 to 7.
“I don’t know any better way to put it than ‘it was an ugly game,'” reflected BYU head coach Matt Schneck, “fortunately we had some great goalie play — [Matt] Brandenburg had a great game — that game could have gone either way; it’s what you’d expect from two top teams.”
BYU won the first draw of the game and came down shooting. They were turned away by Arizona State Goalie Russell Bartle. Speedy transition play by the Sun Devils resulted in the first goal of the game by midfielder Adam Beauchamp. ASU won the next faceoff, but their shot was gathered in by BYU goalie Matt Brandenburg. BYU ASU 2016 2Cougar defense cleared the ball, and freshman attackman Winston Farley scored the first BYU goal, skimming the carpet, assisted by Bobby Meinhold. Sun Devil middie Zac Mathien was a beast in the face with perfect technique and unmatched speed, bringing the ball to his offense once again. The Cougars countered with powerful, relentless defense from Boston Handley, Quentin Willey, and Harrison Wardle, as well as a nice pick-off by Cougar long-stick middie, Max Neser mid-quarter. BYU struggled with clears, but defense continued messing with the Sun Devil’s attack, and the quarter ended in a one-to-one tie.
BYU started the second quarter with a quick draw and a laser shot from freshman Chris Severson. The Cougars won the next face off, but Arizona State quickly took it away, and their quick offensive transition resulted in a tying goal from Rhett Rodgers on the feed by Nolan Waniorek. Both teams traded shots and saves, and Arizona State committed a foul resulting in a two-minute, non-releasable penalty. BYU did not waste its opportunity, breaking the tie with a diving quickstick from Farley on the EMO assisted by Tanner Johnson. The Sun Devils won the critical next draw sprinting downfield and unloading, but Brandenburg handled the shot. The Cougars returned to offense still man-up, and went up by two, executing the exact same play as before, with Farley notching a hat trick, assisted by Johnson. ASU secured the next face, burned the rest of the penalty, and passed around looking for an opportunity, but BYU middie Connor Williams had another idea, stealing the ball, streaking down field, and burying the nut for his first goal of the game. The Cougars got sloppy committing a foul, and the Sun Devils capitalized. Beauchamp brought Arizona State back to within two with his second goal. The Sun Devils were blessed to win another draw, but Cougar middie Spencer Taylor picked their pocket, returned the ball to his offense, and Severson scored his second with the help of Williams. The Sun Devils’ domination of the face off allowed them to control the ball, and Brandenburg was challenged multiple times. Arizona State middie Finn Wells found the back of the net. The Sun Devils could have pulled within one just before half, but after securing yet another face, BYU’s defense took it away. The Cougars were unable to execute before time ran out, carrying a tenuous lead, 6 to 4, into the half.BYU ASU 2016 1
Arizona State started the second half with more domination in the face, and a quick transition to the tying goal from attackman Patrick Havilland. BYU won a rare draw, but defensive pressure from Sun Devil Trevor Sciotto forced a shot easily gathered in by Bartle. The Cougars committed a foul, and Beauchamp made the most of it, burying the ball and giving Arizona State its first lead of the game. BYU fought back securing the next face. Arizona State forced a turnover, but the Cougar defenders Max Ash and Devin Needs pressured the Sun Devils into a failure to advance. Arizona State was executing the ten-man ride trying to get the ball back, but it backfired, and Cougar defensive middie Max Neser secured his first goal on an open net. Sun Devil defensive frustration turned into a Cougar man-up, but the extra man did not result in an extra goal. Both goalies were fending off shots, but Arizona State middie Henry Archie managed to tie the game again near the end of the third. The quarter ended all knotted up, 7 to 7.
The Sun Devils started the fourth with the draw, and a shot that was turned away. On the ensuing ground ball battle, BYU committed its third foul giving Arizona State a chance to go ahead once again. Brilliant defensive pressure from the Cougs burned the penalty, and to add insult to injury, after getting the ball back, Andrew McKinley put BYU back on top with a nifty little off-balance shot. The Sun Devils kept fighting, winning the draw and taking shots that were wide or deflected. BYU struggled to gain possession, and defense played the better part of the fourth quarter. With 2:02 left in the game, the Cougars were clinging to that one-goal lead and Brandenburg was fending off a barrage of Sun Devil attempts. A controversial penalty called with 45 seconds remaining gave Arizona State the chance they needed to tie this game and take it into overtime. Their first couple shots were wide, but they kept pressing. In dramatic fashion just as the penalty expired, Brandenburg reigned in a wicked rip, and was able to run out the clock giving BYU the one-goal win, 8-7.
“You always speak of home field advantage, but I don’t know how much of an advantage it really is,” said Schneck, “Because when you’re on the road, there’s nothing else going on, you have practices the night before, and you’re not doing anything else. [At home] we’ve got guys that are in class all day long, taking tests, studying for this, doing finals, whatever, and then coming out and trying to play and sometimes the focus isn’t there.”
Both of these teams were evenly matched, both young and both very physical. Arizona State definitely had the upper hand in the face off, but BYU’s defense came through when it was needed, and the Cougars came out on top. Coach Matt Schneck summed it up saying he was obviously pleased with this win and happy to have pulled it out: “We recognized this was going to be a tough game, and it ended up that way. It’s been a long time since we have come out on the winning side of a one-goal game, especially against a quality opponent like Arizona State.”
BYU next takes on University of Idaho on Monday, March 14th at 4:00 pm on the North Field. Arizona State’s next opponent is University of Colorado in Boulder on March 24th.

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