Women’s soccer ends historic season in Elite Eight loss

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The BYU women’s soccer team lost 2-1 on Friday against a talented North Carolina team in the NCAA tournament’s round of eight.

The loss was the Cougars’ first and only at home all year and is the end of a record-breaking season for BYU.

“I’m very proud of this year’s team and how they played tonight,” BYU Head Coach Jennifer Rockwood said. “I thought the girls battled hard tonight. It’s tough to find confidence after giving up a quick goal early on, but I was proud of how they bounced back. It’s been an amazing year, we’ve accomplished a lot and I think the team has a lot to be proud of.”

The Cougars end the year ranked No. 2, the highest ranking in the program’s history. The team went 20-2-2 and made it to the Elite Eight for only the second time in school history after earning a No. 1 seed in the tournament.

“The chemistry of the team and how hard these girls worked for each other is what I’ll remember most about this year,” Rockwood said. “Everyone found their roles and supported each other. The friendships and relations with the team are the things you’ll remember but also the big wins — winning a WCC title and making this run in the NCAA tournament.”

In the game, the Cougars went down 1-0 early, an unfamiliar position for the Cougars, whose usually dominant defense was tested the whole game by the talented and quick Tarheel team.

“Tonight was definitely high pressure for me because of North Carolina’s speed, but our defense did a great job of holding them back,” junior goalkeeper Erica Owens said.

Following UNC’s goal, the Cougars answered with a goal of their own by Rachel Manning off a penalty kick.  Through regulation the teams were tied 1–1. It wasn’t until the second overtime that North Carolina scored to send the team to the Final Four.

“I think a lot of our team’s ability to do well this year was in our team chemistry and how much we connect on, and off, the field,” senior defender Cami Jensen said. “Our fan support was amazing this year, and our ability to play for them really came out this year. Being able to represent BYU in a manner that it needed to be was something we strived for, and to put BYU and the soccer program out there.”

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