BYU women’s soccer notched its eleventh-straight victory Oct. 25 against the University of San Francisco, a 3-0 shutout, in the team’s last regular season home game. But for the seniors, the thought of never playing again on South Field proved a tough pill to swallow.
“Its definitely a surreal feeling,” forward Jaiden Thornock said. “I mean, you come in as a freshman and you don’t really expect to be at your last game so soon, so it’s surreal; but it’s awesome.”
Five players were honored, including seniors Annie Amos, Kat Snyder, Niki Fernandes and Jaiden Thornock. The team also honored junior goalkeeper Hilary Kaufusi, who will be unable to continue her career due to injury.
For goalkeeper Snyder, emotions ran high, but she put those on hold during the game en route to delivering her fourth conference shutout performance of the season.
“It’s intense. I think I was in a lot of denial, and I didn’t want to deal with some of these emotions because I didn’t want them to get in the way of getting ready for this game,” Snyder said. “I just wanted to worry about the game in front of me and deal with those emotions later.”
Amos, who hasn’t missed a minute of play all season, also had a hard time dealing with what might be her last game in Provo.
“It’s surreal. To know that this is for sure our last one is heartbreaking,” Amos said. “I grew up, and this was my dream, to come here to play, and it’s coming to an end. So it’s difficult. It’s hard.”
The fans at South Field and all across the country have been an important part of the success the team has accomplished in recent years. Forward Niki Fernandes, along with the other seniors, noted that the thing they would miss the most about playing soccer is the fans.
“Playing on South Field is amazing,” Fernandes said. “There is no other feeling like it anywhere else. It’s just nice to play in front of our fans. We have the best fans in the country.”
For a typical collegiate athletic team, unity, good feelings and friendships are hard to come by. But for all of the seniors, the special part about their experience at BYU has always been the friendships and the bonds they have formed with their teammates, on and off the field.
“I think we have something that no other collegiate team has,” Snyder said. “We have some overarching ideas that unite us no matter what’s happening on the field.”
Fernandes, who scored a goal in the win over San Francisco, echoed that statement.
“We have a good team, and we are very talented, but off the field it’s fun to meet these girls and get to know them and have them be a part of your life.”
BYU head coach Jennifer Rockwood, who has seen all of the seniors through the program, expressed her feelings about the group following senior night.
“Our seniors have been an amazing part of this program during their time here,” Rockwood said in a press release after the game. “We really want to bring them home a conference championship, get to the tournament and maybe have another chance to play here on South Field.”
The Cougars could still have the opportunity to host a first-round game of the NCAA Tournament on South Field, depending on seeding and where the team stands at the end of the regular season.
With or without another game at home, the seniors will miss the friendships they have made in their time at BYU.
“I’m going to miss the social aspect,” Amos said. “I’m going to miss playing with (the team), obviously, but I just feel like I’m not going to know them anymore, and that is what freaks me out.”
Thornock will miss seeing her best friends every day.
“We have great team camaraderie, and we are all best friends, and I’ll miss seeing my best friends every day,” she said.
Women’s soccer will play its final three conference games on the road, at Saint Mary’s Oct. 30, Pacific Nov. 1 and Pepperdine Nov. 8. The first round of the NCAA tournament begins Nov. 14.