Payne-Holmoe Sends BYU to the Sweet 16
It took BYU nearly a full 90 minutes, but the No. 1-seeded and 2nd-ranked Cougars were finally able to put away Auburn 1-0 Thursday night and advanced to the third round of the NCAA Women’s Soccer College Cup.
With the score knotted at 0-0 with 44 seconds left, BYU freshman Michele Murphy was fouled in the box by Auburn junior Blanca Sierra and BYU was awarded a penalty kick.
Senior Carlee Payne-Holmoe placed the ball down on the spot, stepped back, stared down Auburn senior goalkeeper Amy Howard, and then with nerves of steel, fired a perfect low shot, a few inches off the ground and about a foot inside the left post, into the lower left corner of the net for the winning goal.
“Of course I had nerves, but I was confident that I could put the ball where I wanted it,” Holmoe said. “It was one those moments in my career that I will never forget.”
Head coach Rockwood said she could not imagine how much pressure was on Carlee to be in such a moment in an NCAA tournament game with the game on the line. She also said Holmoe was able to come through because of her dedicating time after every fall practice, practicing her penalty shots so that when the time came–like Thursday night–she was prepared to perform. “Obviously at this time of year, every game gets bigger and bigger,” Rockwood said. “I’m proud of these girls; it was a tough battle tonight against a very strong defensive Auburn team. We know tonight was a very big win and we’re excited to move on to the next game.”
The two teams tested each other in the first few minutes of the game and Auburn actually took the first shot just a few minutes into the game. A few minutes later Holmoe had a breakaway and as she encountered the last defenders, she lofted the ball into the left corner but Michele Murphy couldn’t quite get to it. Six minutes later, Lindsi Cutshall passed the ball over the Auburn defenders to a streaking Jaiden Thornock but the keeper got to the ball just a fraction of a second sooner.
That was followed by a shot on goal by Rachel Manning inside the box, which was saved at the last second by Auburn keeper Amy Howard, another shot on goal by Manning, a shot wide by Cloee Colohan, and two shots by Jessica Ringwood. Play also got rough–freshman Auburn forward Alexa Allen was given a yellow card for fouling Marissa Nimmer, and 20 minutes later Nimmer was yellow carded for fouling Allen. The half ended with BYU having a 6-3 shot advantage over Auburn and a shot on goal advantage of 4-1.
Rockwood must have given her best Knute Rockne speech at halftime because her Cougars came out even more determined to score. Five minutes into the 2nd half there was a scramble for the ball at the top of Auburn penalty box and Michele Murphy rifled a shot that was blocked by the Auburn keeper. A few minutes later Murphy put a perfect ball right across the mouth of the goal that passed all the way to the other side of the field without anyone getting a foot on it.
The Cougars continued to advance the ball deep into the Tigers’ half of the field and outshot them 11-2 in the second half. Ringwood had a shot go wide left and then got a shot on goal; Murphy also had a shot on goal, and Colohan had a direct kick from just outside the 18 that just skimmed over the crossbar, followed later by a shot on goal by Holmoe.
The BYU student section was singing, “Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole.…Ole, Ole”; drums were beating, but, no matter how relentless the Cougars were, they just couldn’t get one in the net. Then as time was running out, Auburn defender Blanca Sierra–who had played a masterful game up to that point in matching Murphy and Holmoe’ s speed runs down the right side of the field–got a little too rough and took Murphy’s feet out from under her, drawing the penalty kick and allowing Holmoe to work her magic to pull out the game.
“Defensively we played really solid and didn’t allow Auburn to turn on us,” Rockwood said. “We knew they were a great counter-attack team and so we wanted to make sure that we didn’t let their counters go and I thought our back line did a great job of that tonight.”
BYU now moves on to host Sweet 16 play on Saturday against Marquette, which beat Princeton 3-1 in the earlier game at South Field. Start time for that game is 5:00 p.m. MST at South Field and will be broadcast live on BYUtv. If the Cougars defeat the Golden Eagles, they will host an Elite 8 game sometime next week, something they’ve done just once before, in 2003 when they lost to Connecticut 3-1.
Here is BYU’s post-game interview session: