Michele Vasconcelos led the BYU women’s soccer team to a 18-3-1 record and an appearance to the third round of the NCAA tournament as the West Coast Conference Player of the Year. She was a key for the Cougars throughout season and carved a unique path through life in her journey to Provo.
Vasconcelos joined BYU in 2012 after playing for the Olympic Montro club team and Alta High School. At Alta, Vasconcelos was part of one of the best programs in the state and won state championships in three of her four seasons there.
“Senior year was the best,” Vasconcelos said. “I had the opportunity to play with Taylor Isom, Bizzy Bowen, and Madie Lyons. We made a goal to just go all out and we broke and set new records.”
Vasconcelos and Bizzy Bowen have been friends ever since they first met. Their friendship has made soccer an easy journey playing with each other when possible. They even nicknamed each other.
“We nicknamed ourselves Calvin and Hobbes,” Bowen said. “She’s Calvin and I’m Hobbes,” Bowen said. “She has always been the hardest worker here and in high school.”
In Vasconcelos’ senior year Alta scored 104 goals and only allowed four goals.
“I have this little journal that says when I grow up I want to play for BYU,” Vasconcelos said. “I verbally committed to BYU the summer before my junior year.”
As a freshman at BYU Vasconcelos was a major asset to the soccer program. Vasconcelos started in all 24 season games and contributed eight goals as the second-leading goal scorer for BYU. The Cougars made it all the way to the Elite Eight where they fell to the North Carolina Tar Heels.
As she was preparing for her sophomore season, Vasconcelos got injured.
“I felt sad and it was really hard but it was early enough in the season I knew I could redshirt,” Vasconcelos said. “Bizzy is my best friend and I knew I’d get to play with her. Even the coaches were telling me that I’d get another year with Bizzy.”
Following her redshirt year, Vasconcelos and the Cougars have been nearly perfect. For three-straight years she was nominated to the All West Coast Conference First Team and the Cougars have won 46 of 62 games.
“We challenged Michele at the beginning of (this) year to become a goal scorer and we moved her out of the midfield to the forwards line,” head coach Jennifer Rockwood said. “We all know that she had proved herself.”
Vasconcelos and the Cougars fell to the South Carolina Gamecocks in the Sweet Sixteen last week, but Vasconcelos held her head high.
“I love this team,” Vasconcelos said. “It was a great game. It’s disappointing to not get a (win), but I feel like we played really hard and it just didn’t fall our way.”
Next up for Vasconcelos is a potential professional career. While she’s unsure if she gets drafted, she wants to throw her hat in the ring.
“I feel like I have accomplished a lot and I want to see where the path leads,” Vasconcelos said. “I want to enter the draft and just see what happens.”