An early 2-0 deficit to the University of Colorado was too much for the No. 19 BYU women’s soccer team to overcome Nov. 21 in Florida. The loss was the Cougars’ first in nearly a month and a half.
BYU got off to a slow start as Colorado scored two quick goals, one ricocheting off the post, to jump on the Cougars to lead 2-0 at halftime.
“We played pretty well, but not our best tonight and when you don’t play at your best at this level it’s going to be hard to win games,” BYU head coach Jennifer Rockwood said.
In the 58th minute, BYU finally got on the board when forward Niki Fernandes scored a goal aided by midfielder Rachel Manning. The Cougars had chances to tie it up late but couldn’t capitalize, falling just short of advancing to another Sweet 16. Despite taking six more shots than Colorado, 17 to 11 respectively, the Cougars only tallied seven shots on goal.
“In the second half, we had some chances, but we just couldn’t get a clean look. I thought we were going to tie it up with the momentum going our way,” Rockwood said.
While reaching the second round of the NCAA tournament is impressive and exciting, the loss still stings.
“It was very disappointing for us. I think for us as coaches and players that’s the hardest part of ending the season – not having a chance to lace it up with your seniors again,” Rockwood said.
The loss ends a season where BYU Women’s Soccer proved again they can play on an elite level and compete with the best of the best.
Going into this season, expectations were both high and unknown. Last season, the Cougars cemented their position as a national contender and power. Thus, expectations were and always will be high for this team. However, this year’s squad lost more than half of its starters to graduation or injury. Those losses included BYU’s top scorers and best defenders. Many were not sure how this team would respond. Those players who did return and the freshmen who filled the voids left no doubt.
“I think we exceeded expectations this year. Especially after what we were able to accomplish last year. I’m really proud of the team,”Rockwood said.