BYU soccer survives Santa Clara, advances to NCAA championship game for first time on penalties

The Cougars play the top-seeded Florida State Seminoles on Monday for the title

(Jaren Wilkey | BYU) The BYU women's soccer team celebrates a win over defending champs Santa Clara on Friday. The Cougars advanced on penalties and will now play in their first ever NCAA soccer final.

Santa Clara, Calif. • BYU’s high-powered offense was stifled by Santa Clara, but the Cougars made enough clutch kicks in the end to advance in its first national championship game.

After a scoreless draw through 110 minutes of regulation and overtime, BYU made its last three penalty kicks to advance over defending national champion Santa Clara 3-2.

“Wow what a game,” said coach Jennifer Rockwood, who has coached the program for its entire 27-year history and was making her first College Cup appearance. “A very exciting and huge win for us. We knew this was going to be a tough battle, especially here. Didn’t get the goal we wanted to in regulation but we came through in PKs.”

Fourth-seed BYU (17-4-2) will next face top-seed Florida State (21-1-2) Monday at 6 p.m. at Santa Clara. The game will be televised on ESPNU.

The Seminoles, who lost to Santa Clara in penalty kicks in last year’s final, beat No. 1 Rutgers 1-0 on a goal by reigning Hermann Trophy winner Jaelin Howell with 19 minutes left.

Surprisingly, Howell’s goal was the only one in either semifinal. BYU came in with the highest-scoring offense in the country at 3.5 goals a game, including 14 goals in four NCAA Tournament games. But the Cougars, who lost 1-0 at Santa Clara (15-5-3) earlier this season, once again struggled to score against their West Coast Conference rivals.

As a result, BYU went to a penalty shootout for the first time since 2012.

It didn’t start well for the Cougars. Mikayla Colohan, the second-leading scorer in program history, hit the crossbar, and then Jamie Shepherd’s shot was saved as BYU fell behind 1-0 after two rounds. But Brecken Mozingo’s shot into the upper right corner tied it up, and then Cassidy Smith saved a shot by Broncos standout Kelsey Turnbow to turn the momentum.

BYU’s Bella Folino and SCU’s Izzy D’Aquila both scored to make it 2-2 after the fourth round. In the fifth and deciding round, Olivia Wade scored for the Cougars, and Ellie Glenn’s shot skipped off the right post for the Broncos to send BYU storming onto the field in celebration.

“PKs are tough, especially after you battled for that many minutes,” Colohan said. “It’s a mind game. It’s mental. It’s hard when your season’s on the line, but it’s super exciting when you’re on the side that we’re on and you know you’re going to the national championship.”

BYU’s best chance in regulation came early, when a diving header by Makaylie Moore in the fourth minute hit the post. A long shot by midfielder Kendell Petersen was tipped onto the crossbar by Broncos keeper Kylie Foutch six minutes into overtime.

BYU defender Laveni Vaka headed away a shot at the goal line two minutes into the second overtime to stop SCU’s best chance.

The Cougars had a 26-13 advantage in shots but both teams were even with eight shots on goal.

“Our next game is the biggest one in our careers, and we’re looking forward to it,” Rockwood said.