BYU Downs Ogden

The Cougars achieved a major goal tonight when they qualified for the Premiere Development League playoffs by defeating their in-state rivals 2-0. The victory at BYU's South Field had everything: physical play, bunches of cards, a brilliant goal, and a fly-over by a U.S. Air Force fighter wing.

BYU spent the first half probing Ogden's defense, then, in the second half, they pounced. In the 52nd minute, Justin Norton sent a corner kick to Morgan Gilliam about 25 yards in front of the goal. Gilliam settled the ball and fired it through a wall of unsuspecting defenders and into the top of the net. The set piece was designed so well that Ogden's keeper did not see the shot until it was past him.

"It's something we work on in practice," said Gilliam. "All season I've been trying to hit it one time – without a touch, but this time I had so much room that I just took a touch and put my head down and hit it well. I pride myself in being able to hit a ball from far out"

The Cougars continued to apply pressure, and four minutes later, the Outlaws' keeper fouled former BYU football walk-on Brady Marshall in the box. As he has done all year, Captain Brock Trejo calmly planted the resulting penalty kick in the corner of the net to give his team a 2-0 lead.

After the Cougars' second score, the game got a little testy. Fans may have thought they were watching a World Cup match with all the cards that came out. Ogden lost one player to a red card late in the second half and then another Outlaw was red-carded for some extra-curricular activity after the match was over. Both sides earned numerous yellows.

Although this is Ogden's first year as a PDL team, many of the members of the two teams grew up playing with and against each other. It seems that familiarity breeds a little contempt, at least on the field. The rivalry is not all bad blood though. Several of the players are friends off the field.

"The majority of these guys are locals and we're all pretty much the same age, so we played growing up together," said Sandy, Utah native Jake Cavanaugh. "There's tons of ties. I know [Ogden's] Coach Hickman really well. One of his sons was on my club team. Two or three guys on Ogden's team played on my club team too. It's really fun to play against them."

Cavanaugh subbed in midway through the second half to play his first minutes in a month. He is the first of several injured Cougars to make it back onto the field. In the next week, Coach Watkins anticipates the return of two more starters, Ken Ojuka and captain Steve Magleby.

"We're just piecemealing this thing together and our reserves are really stepping up," said Coach Watkins. "I just told them how impressed I was with the guys that are filling gaps. I'm really happy with what they did."

The Northwest Division leading Cougars qualified for the PDL playoffs with this win. The question now becomes what seed they will be. The Cougars will earn the top seed if they can win two of their next three games combined with a loss by the Abbotsford Rangers. Unfortunately for BYU, two of their games will be against tough opponents, while Abbotsford only plays teams in the bottom half of the division.

Next Friday, July 7th, the Cougars take on the Boulder Rapids Reserve, the second place team in the entire PDL. The following day they face the Colorado Springs Blizzard. Both games start at 7:30 on BYU's South Field.

On Tuesday July 11th, BYU has a special match against Coventry City from The Football League in England. The Coventry City Sky Blues play in the Championships, which is the division one level down from the English Premiere League, the greatest soccer league in the world. Coventry is loaded with talent and averages over 22,000 fans per game. This is an incredible opportunity for BYU soccer and BYU soccer fans.

"It is the biggest game in our program's history and the biggest game on this field," said Coach Watkins. "If we sell the place out it will be the smallest crowd they've ever played in front of by 10,000."

The match will be part of a pre-season U.S. tour for Coventry. The Sky Blues' season begins August 6th, so the club should have most of its first team in as it fine tunes its staring lineup.

"It's their preseason, so it's not like their bringing their scrubs," said Cavanaugh. "These guys are making really good money. This team was in the English Premiere League before, so they are the real deal. It's going to be a great experience. It's going to be a fun game. It's going to be tough, but it should be fun."

While the Cougars will give their best effort, the team also hopes that its fans will represent BYU, the state of Utah and U.S. soccer well by turning out in droves. Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased at the BYU ticket office or online at byutickets.com.

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