After a win against the USL Real Monarchs in Sandy, BYU Men’s Soccer opened their home stadium for 2016 last night with a pre-season game against the Westminster Griffins. Between the cold, the NIT, and a volleyball game rocking the field house, turn out was a bit sparse.The crowd that did make it out was pumped for a game - and they weren’t disappointed.
While things started a bit slowly, with a lot of probing on both sides, BYU set the tone for the night by keeping most of the possession with a tight passing game. When Westminster did have possession, BYU’s organized defense quickly moved to cut them out.
Statistically, BYU ran roughshod over the Griffins, with 10 Shots on Goal to 0, and 6 corners to 0. Interestingly, BYU played most of their corners short with #10, Pedro Vasconcelos, nearly dribbling in a goal in the 43rd minute. Westminster’s keeper played a great game and held Cougars at bay throughout the first half, and kept the scoreline closer than it might have been in the second. BYU defender #13, Junior Larty, finally beat the Griffins’ keeper, tallying off of a corner kick in the 54th minute.
Westminster went into the book first, with a yellow in the 25th minute. The game continued to be a bit chippy with 8 cards shown - 3 yellows to Westminster, 4 yellows and a controversial red to BYU in the 72nd minute. BYU looked a bit disorganized in the first minutes after going down a man, but regathered their focus quickly and continued to hold possession, passing the ball around to kill the clock until #11, Cameron McLaughlin, put in a dagger, posting the Cougars to a 2-0 lead in stoppage time.
While BYU generally seemed to outclass Westminster, Pedro Vasconcelos was the Cougar who shone brightest. He put in a Man of the Match performance, with great vision, effective passing, excellent dribbling, and solid defensive work.
In talking to Coach Brandon Gilliam after the game, he pointed out several things he liked about his team’s performance, “They put in a solid defensive effort. It’s something that we’ve been focusing on, but I liked how they stayed organized and kept their shape. It was also nice to see the depth of this team. Even the guys who went in at the end of the game were creating chances.”
But not everything met with his satisfaction, “We still need to work on our attacking. We should have been able to create more chances, and I’d have liked to see better chances. The real measuring tape will be whether we get better or not. Beating Westminster won’t help us win the PDL, but improving as a team will. … It’s hard playing a team like the Monarchs last week, and then Westminster this week. We need to learn to treat all of our opponents the same, or we risk letting up and letting someone into a game that we should just win.”