In the face of an overwhelming juggernaut Thursday — UCLA entered Provo as the undisputed leader of the sport, ranked first in the nation — No. 7 BYU defended its home turf and shook the status quo.
BYU took down the defending champions, 3-1, with all three of its goals being scored by subs.
The Cougars embodied the confidence of their 5,209 faithful, of whom poured boisterously into South Field Thursday night. In the 24th minute, BYU striker — and UCLA transfer — Ellie Walbruch used her first minute in the game to run under a well-weighted pass from left winger Kendall Petersen and loft a shot over charging Bruin keeper Neeku Purcell. She, and the crowd, wheeled away in celebration well before the ball crossed the goal line.
Ellie with the golden touch👏 pic.twitter.com/adC4hxVd4Z— BYU Women's Soccer (@byusoccer_w) September 1, 2023
A similarly audacious strike helped double the Cougars’ advantage minutes before halftime, as Petersen again skirted past her defender down the left flank, only this time finding the right boot of Rachel McCarthy. Her thunderous 25-yard effort left Purcell equally helpless as it surged into the top-left corner of the net.
The Bruins clawed one back ten minutes after the halftime break. Defender Ayo Oke robbed the ball from outside of the box and drove it down the right side of the goal line, sending it to Reily Turner who slid the ball to the back of the net to cut BYU's lead down one, 2-1.
In a game chalked with physicality — UCLA accounting for 11 of the 16 fouls on the night — the Cougars fought to deny the Bruins of equalizing opportunities in the second.
If BYU fans were looking for a hero that night, Erin Bailey surely wore the cape (and an untied boot). After getting denied her first shot on goal in the 73rd minute, Bailey received the ball in the box from an Olivia Katoa pass from the midfield, and tapped it in with shoelaces flying for security. The roaring student section actually knocked down the crowd barrier as they worshipped their paladin.
Bailey hits the bullseye🎯 pic.twitter.com/NTt3sT49bH— BYU Women's Soccer (@byusoccer_w) September 1, 2023
This win marks BYU's first-ever win over the top-ranked team, and the program's fourth dub over a top-5 team. In fact, all of BYU's goals in the game came from subs (Walbruch, McCarthy and Bailey). The goal count marks the most UCLA has given up since 2021, when the Bruins beat ASU in overtime, 4-3.