Hail to the BYU women's soccer team, whose reign in the Western Athletic Conference continued as the Cougars overcame habitual hail, relentless rain and an unyielding University of Utah team for a 3-2 overtime victory Thursday night at South Field in front of 783 foul-weather fans.
For the second time in eight nights, BYU junior forward Shauna Rohbock scored the game-winning goal in overtime - her second goal of the game in a battle of in-state rivals that started Thursday with the two tied atop the WAC Pacific Division standings.The defending WAC champion Cougars improve to 4-1 in division games and 15-1 overall; the Utes drop to 3-2 and 9-8. While both teams have several more contests prior to the WAC championship tournament Nov. 5-8 in Dallas, Thursday night's match concluded division competition for Utah and BYU. The Cougars clinched the division's top tournament seed.
Four minutes and 48 seconds into the first overtime period, Rohbock fought off the driving rain, hail and the U. defense and found herself with the ball in front of the Utah goal.
"It hit off me, hit off a Utah player and then fell down - and I put it in," said Rohbock, who instantly initiated a makeshift slip-and-slide Y. victory party with a headfirst dive onto the soaked turf.
Meanwhile, Utah coach Amy Freeman Winslow was sprinting out on the field to confront the referee with complaints that Rohbock was not only offsides but she had set herself up by knocking the ball down with her hand.
"I can't wait to see the tapes," Winslow said. "I just want to see the tapes."
The two teams went scoreless in the opening half, although BYU seemed to have the upper hand offensively. In the constant rain and occasional hail, the Cougars outshot the Utes 10-0 in the first 45 minutes (and 21-5 for the game) and fired a couple of near-misses in the opening minutes.
Rohbock opened the scoring 11 minutes into the second 45-minute half. Taking a right-sideline pass from Maren Hendershot, she shook a U. defender with a little stop-and-go action before firing a tight-angle shot from the right wing for a 1-0 BYU lead.
Utah answered seven minutes later as Aly Hill - daughter of Utah athletic director Chris Hill, who was watching in the stands - looped a lofting shot from the left wing into the far corner over BYU goalkeeper Camille Thomas for a 1-1 score.
With just 3:40 left in the rough-and-tumble second half, a Karen Robbins score from near the front of the net put BYU back in front. But the Utes needed just one minute to draw even again on a booming 25-yard blast from Karen Boardman off a Becky Hatch corner kick.
The overtime was marked by whipping wind, a constant downpour and so much hail that the field appeared to be dusted by the fall's first snow flurries. "You couldn't even see," said Rohbock. "I was hurting. This was awful - I wanted to get it over."
Winslow thought the poor weather - more specifically, the wind direction - was a benefit for BYU. "It was going to take a miracle to get us out of there without giving up a goal," she said.
The win gave the Cougars a 4-0 series advantage over Utah. BYU ends its home schedule with a 6 p.m. match Friday against UC Santa Barbara; Utah's next game is against Weber State Tuesday afternoon in Salt Lake City.