By Kurt Plaster
The BYU women”s soccer team is one victory away from winning its fourth consecutive Conference Championships with a 9-2 semifinal victory over San Diego State Thursday night Nov. 7 at South Field.
The No. 1 seeded team defends its title against No. 3 seed New Mexico on Saturday Nov. 9 at noon.
“We only beat New Mexico 3-2 earlier this year and scored in the last few minutes,” head coach Jennifer Rockwood said. “They have the best keeper in the conference. She will make us earn everything that we get. We”re looking forward to playing New Mexico.”
The Cougars carry the momentum of a 12-game winning streak into the final match having not lost since Sept. 25.
“You can tell that they have meshed, are playing as team and are doing very well,” President Merrill J. Bateman said.
Coach Rockwood said the team is playing some of its best soccer of the year scoring five goals in the first half on 11 shots.
“I think offensively any time you are going to score five goals on 11 shots you are doing very well,” she said. “It could be a school record. Things just fell for us tonight. The girls were really excited to play tonight. We”ve worked all year to get here so they were ready for it.”
The Cougars came out strong when MWC freshman of the year Brook Bowman scored first in minute 12.
“I was really nervous before this game,” senior forward Jeni Viernes said. “I knew that anything can happen in the tournament. We wanted to come out strong the first five minutes, put a goal away and let them know who”s field they are playing on.”
On Tuesday, Viernes was selected as the player of the year at the MWC pre-championship banquet.
“I was really excited and grateful for my teammates. It”s my senior year and it”s a great way to finish my career,” Viernes said.
The team tallied four more goals to head into half time up 5-0. Viernes came out and scored her league leading 12th goal, four minutes into the second half to increase the Cougars” commanding lead.
Junior forward Jennifer Fielding and freshman forward Jaime Rendich also led the way for the Cougars, scoring two goals each.
“I think this is one of the best games we”ve played all season,” Rendich said. “We stepped up and played really well tonight.”
On Saturday, the Cougars will play for more than just the conference title. The winner of the tournament receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Women”s College Cup Championships.
The national tournament field will be composed of conference tournament champions and teams that receive at-large invitations.
“We always have the goal to win the tournament because we can”t rely on the at-large bid,” Rockwood said. “We want the automatic bid.”
“We gotta bring intensity because New Mexico is out to beat us just like everybody else,” Viernes said. “We need to score first and set the tone.”
“The way we are playing right now we have a chance of getting pretty far,” Rendich said. “If we continue to play how we are right now, I think we can win on Saturday. We”ll come out ready to win. We all want this really bad and we all want rings really bad.”