The Cougars head to Colorado with a chip on their shoulders as they face the Buffaloes on Saturday in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
The Buffaloes eliminated BYU from the NCAA tournament last season in the second round with a 2-1 victory in Tallahassee, Florida.
“I was actually kind of hoping to get Colorado,” junior Marissa Nimmer said. “We played them last year and they are the team that knocked us out, so I’m super excited to have a chance to play them again and get revenge.”
Colorado scored two goals in the first half against BYU last year and the Cougars were unable to even the score in the second half.
“The revenge factor,” is all sophomore Ashley Hatch said about her reaction to finding out they would face Colorado again.
Hatch is the Cougars’ leading goal-scorer and a key player in their power offense.
If the Cougars win on Saturday, they will face the winner of the North Carolina-South Dakota State game. The second round will take place the following weekend.
BYU enters Saturday’s game coming of a 3-2 loss verse Pepperdine. This loss ended the BYU’s 13-game unbeaten streak.
“I thought we actually played really well against Pepperdine,” Nimmer said. “Our second half was probably the best soccer I think we’ve played. I think it was good for us to realize we have to work for it the whole game, it was a good building block going into our next game.”
Despite outscoring the waves 2-0 in the second half, a rough first half doomed the Cougars (13-4-3, 7-1-1). The No. 12 Waves (15-2-3, 6-1-2) scored three goals in a 20-minute span after BYU struck first. The Cougars outshot the Waves, 29-5, but were unable to find the back of the net enough times to overcome a 3-1 first-half deficit.
“It’s always hard losing,” sophomore Elena Medeiros said. “But I think that loss sparked a fire in me and all my teammates, we’re hungry, we want to get super far in the tournament. It makes us stay hungry and humbled.”
The Cougars’ game this Saturday is the 16th appearance in the NCAA tournament for BYU and third straight dating back to 2012. BYU coach Jennifer Rockwood is 12-12-5 all time in NCAA games and is 3-2-1 since 2012.
Colorado was one loss, and North Carolina was the other.
Prior to losing to Pepperdine, the Cougars were riding a 13-game unbeaten streak. This was a complete turnaround for the Cougars who had a rough start to their season, losing three straight games.
“The rough start was a slap in the face,” Medeiros said. “After that, we started fighting harder for balls, we started valuing the ball more, and we started trying to play with more heart. I think it is what has made us so good and helped us come so far from those first few games.”
The Cougars head into their first round game with high hopes and high confidence.
“We are clicking and connecting so well together,” Nimmer said. “If we keep laying how we’ve been playing and playing our style we will get great results.
One thing is certain, if the Cougars win on Saturday, revenge will never taste better.