Cougars Round up the Outlaws

The BYU men's soccer team should consider dubbing the Ogden High School field its home away from home. The Cougars have now won as many games in Ogden as they have at South Field in Provo following another nail-biter between the in-state rivals.

Despite a short bench and a mid-game injury, BYU held on to another one-goal victory against the Ogden Outlaws.

The list of missing action heading into the game was already cause for concern, but when the game was complete, BYU had just three healthy forwards left from the seven forwards who started the season. Hugh and Andrew VanWagenen were at their brother's wedding, Jake Cavanaugh is out with a severe groin injury, Brady Marshall is still out with a staph infection, and Mason McMullin, who started due to the vacancies in the lineup, went down in the second half with a leg injury.

Personnel issues were not the only thing the Cougars had to deal with in the game. BYU also had to navigate what Cougar Head Coach Chris Watkins called a "painfully narrow" field.

Ogden plays on a high school football field, which is considerably narrower than a regulation field. The Cougars prepared for the unusual conditions all week in practice and the work paid off. Ogden kicked the ball out in their own end resulting in a throw in from just above the corner. Sophomore captain Steve Magleby sent the throw right in front of the goal where midfielder David Clark made put the ball in the net on a leaping header.

"We practiced that play a lot in practice because we knew we wanted to take advantage of the small field," explained Clark. "The key to winning was trying to stick with what we did all week during practice. We really worked on playing in tight spaces and playing in such a narrow field."

The score in the 67th minute held up to give the Cougars the 1-0 victory. Coach Watkins was please with how his team executed during the game.

"I thought we were organized in the midfield," said Watkins. "I thought we kept the ball well and created more opportunities going forward than [Ogden]. Obviously execution on the short and narrow field tactics helped with the win. We had all week to work on it and I thought our guys did a pretty good job both defending long balls and receiving throw in and corners."

BYU now enjoys a 5-1 record and a four-game win streak. The Cougars have a six-point (two win) advantage on the second place Outlaws in the PDL's Northwest Division. Pending the outcome of several games this weekend, BYU could be in sole possession of first place in the Western Conference and in a four-way tie for second place in the entire PDL.

Coach Watkins feels like his team has finally turned the corner in terms of expecting to win every game they play. For the first time since entering the PDL, the Cougars are building confidence from one game to the next.

"We've been trying to establish some momentum," said Coach Watkins. "We had a lot of momentum as a club, but now as a PDL team we finally have momentum. We don't want to rest; we want to move on this momentum. We want to make sure that we become not just another team in the PDL, but a team that our opponents respect, and hopefully we can earn some hardware over the next few years.

Next up for the Cougars are two home games on Friday June 9th and Saturday June 10th against the Abbotsford Rangers and Cascade Surge respectively. Following those matches, BYU heads to Phoenix to take on the Arizona Sahuaros in the first round of the U.S. Open Cup on June 14th.

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