By Kurt Plaster
Senior forward Jeni Viernes set a Mountain West Conference record, scoring four goals in a tournament game as she led the Cougars to the MWC soccer title and earned MVP honors.
“I don”t know if we”ve ever had someone score four goals in one game,” coach Jennifer Rockwood said.
The team continued its dominance in the Mountain West Conference, winning its fourth consecutive tournament championship, with a 5-1 victory over New Mexico at South Field on Saturday.
“This is a great exciting day for us and something we have looked forward to all year long,” Rockwood said. “The girls came through, the team came through and we are just really happy at this point but we still know that we have a few more games to go.”
The victory gives the Cougars an automatic bid to the NCAA Women”s College Cup Championships starting this week.
The 64-team championship bracket pairings will be announced Monday afternoon.
“You never know what the committee is going to do,” Rockwood said. “I really have no idea where they will send us. We may have a chance to stay here. We will wait and see.”
Against New Mexico the team took a while to get going.
“I was really nervous in the first half,” Rockwood said. “We did not quite have the energy and the intensity that we came out with on Thursday.”
Viernes got the team going in minute 16 with her second goal of the tournament.
She capitalized on a mistake by New Mexico goalkeeper Kristen Winters. Winters allowed the ball to role into the goalie box instead of picking it up. Viernes attacked and poked the ball away from Winters into the open net.
“Willy (Viernes) is amazing,” junior midfielder Aleisha Cramer Rose said. “It”s awesome, it”s her senior year and she pulled us back up. We were kind of in a slump and she pulled us back up.”
The Lobos tied the game in minute 25 when UNM sophomore midfielder LeAnne Hendren found the back of the net to make it 1-1.
Viernes responded adding two more goals before the half in a span of less than 10 minutes to put the Cougars on top, heading into the locker room up 3-1.
Viernes scored her fourth goal of the afternoon on a header assisted by freshman forward Jaime Rendich.
Her performance was a MWC tournament game record with four goals and eight points. After the game Viernes was named the tournament MVP.
BYU”s fifth and final goal was put in by last season”s MWC tournament MVP, junior forward Lydia Ojuka.
After the game Mountain West Conference Commissioner Craig Thompson, awarded the team the MWC tournament trophy.
The all-tournament team was also announced after the game and include BYU”s Viernes, junior midfielder Aleisha Cramer-Rose, junior forward Jennifer Fielding and freshman midfielder Brooke Bowman.