The conference room was filled with athletes anxiously awaiting their fate as the BYU women’s soccer team crowded together to watch the results of the Division 1 NCAA selection show.
Displayed on the screen was a bracket of the teams that would compete in the first round of the tournament, and cheers erupted as BYU’s name appeared.
The West Coast Conference champions will be playing Texas Christian University on Nov. 9 at TCU’s home field.
Coach Jennifer Rockwood gave an audible, “That’s awesome!” from the other side of the room when the announcement was made.
“I kind of didn’t know what to expect,” Rockwood said. “We’ve been sent to different regionals. (We) didn’t see the TCU thing coming, but it’s great.”
Madie Gates, the only senior on the team, said the team is planning to stay focused on their strengths and taking things one game at a time.
“Anyone we’re going to play in the tournament is a great team, so to be able to go out there, it will be exciting,” Gates said. “(We are) going to be focused on what our team does well. We’re excited to take it one game at a time.”
Rockwood agreed the best thing the team can do to prepare is to continue focusing on what they do well and remember the victories that have got them to this point.
“I think we just need to make sure to continue to build on what we’ve done,” Rockwood said. “Remind ourselves of how we play when we’ve had great success and really focus on that for the next three days.”
According to Rockwood, after losing the WCC championship last year and having seven starting players graduate, what has helped bring the team together this year has been the leadership from experienced players.
“We had amazing leadership with Madie being our team captain,” Rockwood said. “She’s been so important to the development of this team on and off the field. We’ve got some great returning, experienced players this year. Some juniors like (Serassio, Jefferson, Lyman and Flake).”
Gates said the conference loss they suffered last year is what propelled the team to think about what they wanted to accomplish this season and motivated them to take the conference win.
“We really decided, even two weeks after last season, what we wanted to do,” Gates said. “We sat down as a team and decided goals — one of them was to win the conference. Now that we’ve done that, we’re just moving forward staying focused game to game.”
Rockwood said the team took the offseason as a time to prepare and refine their strategy and formation. The team is approaching the game with a new tactical style they have never done before.
“Hopefully that will catch TCU off guard,” Rockwood said. “(TCU is) going to be playing against a team that plays a little differently than most teams.”
The Cougars will be traveling to Fort Worth, Texas, and are set to play against TCU on Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. CST.