PROVO, Utah (ABC 4 Sports) - The No. 1 seed BYU women’s soccer team defeated the No. 4 seed Marquette Golden Eagles 6-5 on penalty kicks after going scoreless through regulation and two overtime periods in front of a crowd of 3,193 at South Field Saturday night to advance to the 2012 NCAA Tournament Elite Eight.
This is BYU's first time back in the Elite Eight since the 2003 season and it's the furthest a BYU team has been in the NCAA Tournament in program history.
Freshmen Paige Hunt, Michele Murphy and Marissa Nimmer, sophomores Jaiden Thornock and Kayla Varner, and senior Cami Jensen each scored penalty kicks to help the Cougars seal the victory.
“This was a huge game for us," said BYU head coach Jennifer Rockwood. "It was a battle with lots of emotion. Our fans create such an awesome atmosphere here and I’m so excited for Kayla, she really came through for us tonight by hitting that penalty kick to win the game.”
Marquette scored the first penalty kick but after two amazing saves from BYU goalkeeper Erica Owens and the game-winning penalty kick from Varner, BYU took the 6-5 edge and victory.
The Cougars started the game aggressively with two shots in the first four minutes of play. Ringwood led the team with four shots in the half and junior Cloee Colohan had three more.
“At the beginning of our game, we were able to do everything we talked about in the huddle," Rockwood said. "Marquette came out in the second half and controlled things a bit but Erica (Owens) and our defense really stepped up.”
In the second half, Marquette dominated offensively with a 9-4 shot advantage but with the score still at 0-0, the teams entered overtime.
This was the third overtime session for the Cougars this season.
BYU had two shots and Marquette had one in the first overtime but no players found the back of the net.
Both teams had opportunities in the second overtime to score. With just under eight minutes left, Marquette’s goalkeeper mishandled the ball while she was on the edge of the box and senior Jessica Ringwood gained possession but the Cougars weren't able to capitalize.
A few minutes later, BYU was called for a foul just outside the goal box with 5:20 to play but a head shot by the Golden Eagles went wide right and the 0-0 tie sent the teams into a shootout.
It was the fourth time for BYU that a NCAA Tournament game has been decided by penalty kicks with the Cougars going 1-3 in those last four instances.
Next Friday, the Cougars will host the winner of the game between No. 2 seed North Carolina and No. 3 seed Baylor to be played tomorrow at 1 p.m. EST.