Rebels Take Down Cougars
BYU came into Las Vegas with hopes for an easy win against UNLV, and then momentum heading into their match-up with No. 1 Cal Poly in game two of their road trip. The Rebels had something else in mind taking the Cougars down 8 to 6.
The game started with a face off win by BYU, but tough defense by UNLV. It was scoreless for the first few minutes until Cougar attackman Chris Severson scored the first goal with a nifty behind-the-back. The Rebels didn’t flinch. On the next possession they tied the game. BYU gained possession, and Severson scored again with a low-to-low scorcher that snuck in under the UNLV goalie. The Rebels matched, scoring on their next possession, and sending a strong message. This was not going to be the easy win BYU was hoping for. Both defenses dug in, and the quarter ended in a 2-2 tie.
Quarter two started with continued stingy defense. UNLV’s Quinton Eissler broke through scoring and giving the Rebels a 3-2 lead. UNLV was blessed with a couple of man-up opportunities, but BYU’s D, led by senior long pole, Harrison Wardle held the Rebels scoreless. BYU’s freshman goalie phenom, Mason Moon had several incredible saves on fierce attacks. With 1:34 left in the half, freshman Connor Bernal scored on a designed play unassisted tying the game 3-3.
BYU came out strong in the second half, but was plagued by turnovers. Frustration led to a BYU foul that resulted in a man-up goal from UNLV’s Corey Ewing. Cougar attackman, Harry Waddoups tied the game again with a nice assist from sophomore Winston Farley. BYU gave up another foul, but defense held strong. However, after all-even, Eissler stung the upper pipe putting UNLV in the lead again. The Cougars had a man-up advantage mid-quarter, but nervous play led to a turnover and a lost opportunity. The Rebel’s Eissler seized the momentum, upping their score with a right-to-left dodge goal increasing the lead to two. The quarter ended with another Cougar unforced error and Rebel Blake Day scored to give UNLV a 3-goal lead into the final quarter.
UNLV was confident owning the faceoff and increased their aggressiveness in both defense and offense. Their speedy transition play had BYU on its heels, resulting in another man-up. The Cougars defense made a bold takeaway, and Tanner Johnson scored on the fast-break assisted by Max Ash. BYU fans were hopeful the momentum had finally swung their way when the Cougars were slashed resulting in a man-up play. But the Cougars were not able to capitalize, and with 3:23 left, BYU was down by two. They pulled their goalie to add pressure on the UNLV clear. The Cougars recovered the ball, but were unable to hang on to it, and the Rebels scored on the BYU open goal. On the following timeout, the refs did a stick check, and UNLV was found to have an illegal stick, resulting in a non-releasable penalty giving BYU man-up for the reminder of the game. The Cougars brought the game to within two with a man-up goal from Johnson assisted by Michael Perry, and there was hope with just under two minutes to go. Unfortunately for BYU, the Rebels were not going to let this one go. They snatched up the final faceoff and scrapped until the clock ran out beating the Cougars 8 -6.
This game was about speed, aggressiveness and swagger. UNLV had more of them all tonight. The Cougars had no answer for the Rebel’s transition play, relentless defense, and outstanding goalie play.
BYU Takes Down No. 1 Cal Poly in Thriller
Last night I said BYU was going to have to bring their “A” game if they were going to beat No. 1 Cal Poly after a disappointing loss to unranked UNLV. “A Plus” defense coupled with an improved offensive effort was good enough to pull out a thrilling victory against the Mustangs, 6 to 5.
BYU’s Tanner Bean won the first face off and sophomore attackman Winston Farley got the Cougs on the board quickly assisted by Chris Severson. Bean owned the next draw, and the Cougars set the tone on another quick score, this time from Severson with an assist from Zach Labrum. After another win at the face, Cal Poly’s defense toughened up causing a turnover, and the Mustangs put a damper on the Cougar momentum with their first goal. BYU did not buckle, but instead upped their lead by 2 on a goal from Tanner Johnson assisted by Harry Waddoups. Flags started to fly against the Cougars, but inspired play by freshman goalie, Mason Moon turned away two man-up opportunities for the Mustangs. BYU kept on shooting messing with CP’s defense, but the quarter ended with a tentative 3 to 1 lead for the Cougars.
The second quarter was all about defense. Building on their first quarter success, the Cougs kept shooting, but Cal Poly’s goalie Pihl assisted by excellent long pole work turned away several shots. However, with 5:24 left in the half, Waddoups found the net assisted by Labrum. BYU continued with success in the face-off, but didn’t find the back of the net again. The Cougar defense held Cal Poly scoreless in the second quarter, and took a 4 to 1 lead into half.
The second half started with continued success in the draw led by BYU midfielder Connor Williams, but the Mustangs drew another foul. The Cougar defense, coupled with incredible goalie work, turned CP away, but a turnover led to goal number two for the Mustangs, bringing them to within two. Cal Poly was twice blessed with man-up opportunities, and twice turned away by brick-wall defensive work from Cougar long poles Harrsion Wardle, Rick Rose, Devin Needs, and Boston Handley. Midway through the quarter, Cougar middie Connor Bernal ripped a hard straight shot right over the goalie’s head, and after enduring one more man-down, BYU took a 5 to 2 lead into the final quarter.
The fourth quarter started with a furious shooting barrage from Cal Poly, but the Cougar’s defensive road block, including LSM Matt Neser and defensive middie Max Ash continued to strip and steal. BYU got a rare call, and made good with a goal from Bernal assisted by freshman Michael Perry. The four-goal lead with less than 8 minutes left felt good, but there was no thinking it was enough. Williams continued to win in the draw, but the Cougars made a critical turnover leading to a goal from Mitch Stickney that set the Mustang bench on fire. Cal Poly was enabled by another man-up, and AJ Guralas made good bringing them within two. Williams won the draw again for BYU, but the Mustangs were desperate, and fought to cause another turnover. Cal Poly patiently worked the ball around, and Guralas brought them within one striking fear into the droves of Cougar faithful with 2:38 left in the game. The next faceoff and fight for possession was a knock-down, drag-out battle that was eventually won by Cal Poly, who called a timeout with 38 seconds left on the clock. Back out on the field BYU was not going to be denied. Moon turned away the Mustangs final shot, and the Cougs picked up the ground ball running the clock out.
The difference tonight for BYU was stepped-up shooting and relentless, pounding defensive work. Despite the unbalanced penalty situation, the Cougar’s persistently and patiently shut down Cal Poly’s offensive game. The Mustangs had no answer in the draw with BYU winning the vast majority, and they struggled to get past Mason Moon, who simply would not be scored on. The Cougars proved you can never count them out. This was a team win, well done.