Nebraska started about as hot as can be Monday night in its home-opener against BYU, striking first in the fourth minute and adding another before the half. But a 15-minute stretch to close out regulation cost the team a win.
The Huskers (1-0-1) settled for a 2-2 draw with the Cougars (1-0-1) despite dominating the first 45 and controlling the stat sheet.
Head coach John Walkers’ side opened aggressive, pushing up the flanks and sending crosses into the box. Senior forward Faith Carter scored before fans had even settled into their seats off a rebounded ball that fell right to her feet in front of the goal. Junior midfielder Brenna Ochoa was the engine behind the attack for most of the evening.
“I think we were building our attack really well,” she said. “That really is what gets us going. Once we get confidence with our built attacks, it really helps our offense.”
And there seemed to be plenty of confidence to go around. Nebraska had more corners (six) through the first 45 minutes of play than BYU had shots (one). The Cougars first attempt at goal came 12 minutes into the evening.
Ochoa played the whole evening but didn’t make it into the box score, a distraction from an otherwise strong game. She and the Husker offense had BYU on its heels for the entirety of the first half, with a nine-shots-to-one advantage.
When the two sides resumed play in the second half, the script looked flipped. The Cougars were attacking and Nebraska looked a little off-kilter. Where BYU was disconnected attacking in the first half, they were stronger in the second, and with the foot off the gas, Nebraska’s chances dried up. Complacency didn’t set in, nerves did.
“I don’t think we were comfortable with the lead, but I think we were so focused on that lead and defending it that we went away from attacking completely,” Ochoa said. “It was more focused on ‘let’s hold this lead.’
“When we went away from our build attack mentality I think we lost our momentum.”
The Huskers attempted two corners and only four shots in the final 45 minutes of regulation. BYU got off eight, but nothing found its way into the back of the net until the final fifteen minutes. First it was an unassisted shot from 20 yards out that went far post on keeper Aubrei Corder and then another unassisted goal into the same corner after a BYU attacker dribbled through several Husker defenders.
“They were a really good team, they possessed it really well throughout the game. There were moments throughout the game … I just think we kind of went away from what we practiced and that made them look better.”
Ochoa said the team played frantic late. Nine times out of ten, whoever wins the midfield battle wins the match. It seemed like a draw Monday night, and, well…
“I think we won it in the first half,” Ochoa said. “I think there was a good 15 minutes in the second half where we weren’t winning it and unfortunately they scored two within that 15-minute span. We just have to be turned on the whole game.”
Neither side separated during the sudden-death overtime period and BYU left Hibner Stadium feeling upbeat while the Huskers left feeling like one slipped away. With Oregon in town on Friday, there isn’t much that needs changing, just more consistency.
“We can’t have moments like that where we turn off,” Ochoa said.
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.