Fans who have watched the BYU women’s soccer team this year have witnessed an abundance of goals as the Cougars have shown an ability to score in bunches.
The Cougars are one of the nation’s top goal-scoring squads, coming in at No. 2 in the nation with 35 goals through their first 10 matches.
“We have found with our opponents that we’re a difficult team to defend because of our system and the style that we play. It’s unique and it’s hard to train and prepare for.” — BYU soccer coach Jennifer Rockwood
“We have found with our opponents that we’re a difficult team to defend because of our system and the style that we play,” BYU coach Jennifer Rockwood said. “It’s unique and it’s hard to train and prepare for.”
Several teams have experienced that firsthand. The Cougars outscore their opponents by nearly 2.5 goals per match, on average.
“It’s great that we have so many different players who can (score),” Rockwood explained. “A lot of times if you have one or two girls that you rely on to go score goals, that puts added pressure on them … (But) we’ve had so many different goal scorers — starters and nonstarters.”
Rockwood feels that it’s taken some time to iron out the best fit for some of her players, but has seen it all come together this season to create an explosive offense.
“So much of our offense starts through our central players, both Jamie Shepherd and Olivia (Wade-Katoa),” Rockwood said. “We were shuffling them in different positions last year. So they’ve had a lot of time to kind of lock into the positions that they’re in.”
The Cougars have embraced their roles and have seen success because of it.
Rockwood has watched her players make each other better on the practice field and feels that that has added to her team’s success this season.
“I think they push each other each day in practice, knowing that they all want to play and they all want good minutes,” she said. “There’s a lot of competition each and every day at practice. I think that raises the level of our play.
“We’re seeing more goals being scored in practice and that’s been carried over to the game field. I think there’s lots of different factors (to our offensive success) and a lot of it just being their mindset, their expectation and how hard they’re working. And they’re having a lot of fun doing it.”
With its prolific offensive attack, BYU has scored multiple goals in every match but one, powering the school to an impressive 8-1-1 record. BYU’s lone loss came in Logan against Utah State when the Cougars were uncharacteristically shut out. Prior to that, the school’s worst offensive outing this season came in a 2-0 victory over Long Beach State.
Rockwood feels her team’s preparation has been a big factor to producing so many goals this season.
“The girls have been working a lot; spent a lot of time in front of the goal getting those reps,” she said. “(We’ve been) putting them in different scenarios that they’re going to see themselves in games. So they’re more comfortable in front of a goal and just knowing that we can create lots of different ways to score.”
The Cougars have looked very comfortable in front of the goal halfway though their season. BYU enters the final week of September averaging 3.5 goals per game on its 35 total goals. To put that in perspective, the Cougars needed four additional matches and nearly a month more to reach that goal total a season ago.
“We had seven ties last year, all of which games where we outshot, outpossessed and dominated those opponents but weren’t able to find ways to score,” Rockwood said. “So far this year, we’ve got goals coming from lots of different people in lots of different ways.”
The Cougars have seen great improvement over the last year and hope to keep their offense humming, especially as they plunge into Big 12 play moving forward.
Monday night’s Big 12 matchup will pit the top two goal-scoring squads in the country when No. 6 BYU plays at No. 14 Texas, the Longhorns entering the night with the nation’s top offense, averaging four goals per match. That contest is set to begin at 6 p.m. MDT.