Saturday, March 19, 2016

BYU vs Dixie State - March 19, 2016

On another cold night, the BYU Cougars took on the Dixie State Storm at the Stadium at South Field.

This game was a tale of two halves.  BYU started out fairly organized, but not as clean or in control as they looked last night.  By the 15th minute, they'd given up a corner, a shot on goal, and been shown a yellow card.  In the next fifteen minutes they continued to give up possession, conceding 3 more corners and eventually a goal.

The final fifteen minutes of the half saw the Cougars start to take control, though they still seemed wasteful on transitions with long passes over the top to no one.  They did manage to get their first and second corners of the game.

Over halftime, Coach Brandon Gilliam made some adjustments that really helped put the Cougars back into the game.  One thing he didn't change was the players on the field, saying that he "wanted to learn how to get out of the hole they were in.  It was a real confidence booster for them."

During the second half, BYU kept more of the ball, and started to put real pressure on the Dixie State Keeper.   Defender Junior Lartey came up big multiple times, shutting down counter attacks with his positioning and athleticism.  BYU scored a tying goal in the 68th minute. It came some solid build up play that culminated in a cross that Dixie State couldn't clear. After ping-ponging in the box,  the Cougars slammed the ball into the back of the net.

BYU continued to apply pressure and scored the winning goal in the 76th minute on a screamer that came from the edge of the 18 yard box.  The Cougars looked very good at this point, collapsing on the ball at turn overs and winning back possession quickly.

As the game entered it's final phase, it began to get very chippy, with 3 yellows being shown (all to BYU) in a 2 minute period.  BYU ended the game with 7 shots on goal, 3 corners, and 4 yellow cards.  Dixie State had 3 shots on goal, 4 corners, and 2 yellows.

After the game, Coach Gilliam had some praise for his team, "Junior looked good.  Michael Anderson (a freshman starter) looked really good overlapping and coming down his line. I think they made the right corrections after the half and learned a lot from it.  It was a real blessing to be down a goal and have them put 10 men behind the ball.  We're going to see that a lot in the PDL, so we need to learn to break it down."

He still wants to see improvement on both sides of the ball though, "We got better looks tonight, but we're still not putting enough in.  We also let them have a couple of spells in the first half.  That's worrying. We can't do that in the PDL or we'll really be punished for it."

Joe Hickman, acting Head Coach for Dixie State was congratulatory after the game, saying, "BYU looked fit, they looked good.  Both of their goals were just perfect - upper corner, there was nothing our keeper could do.  They [the Cougars] are good competition. It's good for us to come up here and play a good team."

Coach Hickman also praised his team, "I think we played well.  We just came up a little short.  I'm really proud of the boys."

BYU vs Westminster Griffins March 18th 2016

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.”