BYU women’s soccer kicks off spring season
The 2023 BYU women’s soccer spring season will see Jen Rockwood’s Cougars play nine matches over five days in three different states over the next seven weeks.
It may seem like a lot.. and it is. But that’s just the way Rockwood likes it.
“If you’re just training all the time you don’t really know where you are. You need to have some sort of measure against an opponent,” Rockwood said. “When you have those game days, that’s where you learn the most and can grow the most. So we try to play as many games as we’re allowed to.”
The NCAA only allows teams five days in which they can hold these glorified scrimmages, and teams aren’t allowed to fly or miss classes on behalf of the competitions. To get the most out of that, the Cougars will travel over 2000 miles by bus and play four Saturdays worth of doubleheaders over the next two months.
Things will kick things off on Saturday, Feb. 25 the Indoor Practice Facility for a twinbill with UVU at 1:30 p.m. and Weber State at 6 p.m. One week later, BYU hits the road to take on Arizona and Northern Arizona in Tempe, Arizona. The Cougars’ only one-game weekend will come on March 25 when they face off with Utah Tech in Saint George.
The Cougars then travel to Pocatello, Idaho on April 1 for a two-fer with Montana and Idaho State. Finally, the spring season South Field finale will see Rockwood’s squad take on Southern Utah and rival Utah. All home games will be free for the public to attend.
Though there isn’t a trophy or postseason or really anything on the line in these games besides bragging rights, that doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t matter. “The scores may not matter, but it matters in getting us ready for the fall where we do have the chance to compete for a national championship,” junior forward Bella Folino said. “This is really where we build…our confidences and our core strengths and really get us going on the right foot for the next season.”
Folino has a new role to grow into, as she moved from midfielder to forward last fall. “I’m looking to get more confident playing forward,” she said. “But as I’m one of the older players on the team now, I’m taking on more of a leadership role; leading by example, helping the new freshman transition to the new team and the new program, and help answer any questions I can.”
Those new freshman join a team that lost just 1 graduating senior from last year’s Sweet 16 squad, which obviously gets exciting thinking about what the Cougs can accomplish this fall. However, there are a still great deal of things to work on between then and now.
After giving up 25 goals last season, Coach Rockwood wants to focus on transition defense and game control this spring to hopefully get that number down in the fall. However, perhaps the biggest point of emphasis will be on the offensive side of the pitch.
“Last year we were number one in the country in average shots per game, and the year before that we were one of the top goal scoring teams in the country. So, we actually created more chances to score last year than the year we went to the national championship game,” Rockwood said. “But we weren’t finishing those opportunities, and that led us to the ties that should not have been ties.”
One might say that goals are the goal this season.
Regardless, it should be an exciting spring for Rockwood and the Cougars as they prepare for a national title chase this fall.