Thursday night’s match looked as though it was being playing in the northwest and home-field conditions for the Portland Pilots. A slight drizzle that turned to a steady flow of precipitation made for a soggy field and sloppy play in the first half.
It was the Cougars of BYU, however, that welcomed the Pilots to South Field for their inaugural West Cost Conference game. It was a rude welcome as they asked their guest to stay an extra period to finish things off, but eventually the Cougars snuck out a win in the fourth minute of overtime to take 2-1 victory.
Shots went wide to the left, to the right, and ten feet over the goal. Passes skipped in the mud and missed their mark and made easy plays difficult and difficult plays impossible. Thankfully for both squads the rain began to subside as time ticked down to halftime with a 0-0 tie.
“We practiced all week with the weather in mind,” said Cougar head coach Jennifer Rockwood. “You can’t totally prepare but I think we did well all things considered.”
Both teams quickly took advantage of the break in the weather as Lindsi Lisonbee knocked in a header at the 40-minute mark to give the Cougars the lead at 1-0. The satisfaction of that goal would be tempered when Micaela Capelle sent an offering straight to the back of the net for the equalizer.
“That’s a tough feeling,” forward Jennie Marshall said. “You get so excited and to have them score so fast is really deflating. It goes to show the mental strength of our team to move on so quickly and get back to business.”
The hesitancy in the first half from the weather nearly disappeared completely as the speed of the players increased and their confidence grew. Although struggling slightly this season, the Pilots have won the West Coast Conference four years running. The longer the Cougars stayed in the game the more they believed they would win.
Good weather, bad weather, it didn’t matter. Both teams were aggressive from the outset, with a subtle shoulder shrug hear and a little extra nudge there trying to get any advantage they could.
Regulation ended in a 1-1 tie despite a flurry of activity from both teams. Each had their opportunity but neither converted.
Jennie Marshall had enough of the cold and exhaustion and with her took a right footed hook shot that arched up and over the goalie only to hit the far post and safely bounce away 45 seconds into the first overtime.
Marshall would not be discouraged however.
“When that happens you have to just forget about it and move on,” Marshall said. “You have to be ready for the next one so you don’t miss again.”
Four minutes after her near-make she drilled a shot from the far right side and buried it into the net on the far left side putting an instant end to the night. The win gives BYU their first WCC win and puts them on track for a successful run to a conference title.
“It felt so good,” Marshall said about the game winner. “It kind of hurt too, all the girls jumped on top of me! But it’s the best feeling to make one that ends the game, it’s what we practice for and what we dream about.”
Despite the rain, mud, and cold the Cougars showed that they will be an immediate threat and are ready to take on all comers in the WCC.
“I’m so proud of our girls,” Rockwood said. “There were a lot of distractions but they stuck to the game plan and executed. That’s all we can ask of them.”