BYU women’s soccer goes the distance, falls just short in national championship on penalty kicks

It came down to a do-or-die final penalty kick after 110 minutes of play, but a national championship trophy just barely eluded BYU women’s soccer by a few inches in the NCAA title game against Florida State.

Florida State’s Yujie Zhao countered Olivia Wade’s clutch, game-tying shootout offering with the winning strike just past Cougar goalie Cassidy Smith to bring BYU’s Cinderella tournament run to crushing finish.

The Cougars had an early Cameron Tucker goal negated by an offsides penalty, which was followed by continued frustration for Jen Rockwood’s offense who just couldn’t find any rhythm and proved mistake-prone amid a disruptive Florida State defense. While averaging more than 24 shots per game throughout the season, BYU only managed eight total shot attempts against the Seminoles although showing a similar intrusive effort on defense.

“It was a grind, playing against Florida State is always gonna be tough,” BYU’s four-time All American Mikayla Colohan said. “We definitely battled, we defended hard and prevented them from scoring whenever they got close.”

The Cougars suffered a scare when Colohan was taken off the field with a deep shin bruise in the first half, only to heroically return after halftime to complete her final collegiate match and ultimately make BYU’s first penalty kick.

“I definitely didn’t wanna go out that way,” Colohan said. “Luckily my leg felt okay and I went back out to finish the game.”

Colohan, Brecken Mozingo and Wade all netted their kicks in the closing shootout, with Smith’s blast tying the match in a must-score situation. Zhao’s shot may have sank BYU’s championship hopes, but it couldn’t wipe away a historic season for the Cougars, a “dream come true” for Colohan in her senior season.

After a campaign for the ages, BYU will look to the future for Rockwood to bring a new crop of Cougar talent back to college soccer’s biggest stage.

“Now our younger players are left to aspire to go and do even more,” Rockwood said.

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