NCAA

BYU Women’s Soccer Prepares as NCAA Works Towards Spring Season

The sports industry is among the biggest casualties of the coronavirus pandemic and the raft of restrictions it has occasioned, up there with the aviation and tourism industries. The NCAA Division 1 women’s soccer fall championship was one of the leagues affected by the global pandemic.

Faced with the prospects of playing in empty stadiums, and the risks posed by surging infection rates, the NCAA Division 1 Council decided to postpone the 2020 fall championships to the spring of 2021. The number of participating teams was also reduced from the usual 64 to 48 to reduce the number and spread of preliminary-round sites ostensibly and in turn, promote the health and safety of all involved persons. For the fans, events such as betting on soccer were affected.

Despite these unprecedented challenges, the BYU women’s soccer team remains upbeat in training for the upcoming season. The team’s captain, Mikayla Colohan is as fired up as ever. “I’ve been waiting for the day to get to play again,” she says. The blank game schedule is, however, evidently taking some toll on the players. “It’s just weird not traveling on the weekends and having a big game to look forward to every week.”

Preparations in High Gear

Indeed, this year’s league postponement came at a time when the Cougars badly needed to continue with their last season’s upward momentum. The team flawless drive to the penultimate stages of the Elite Eight tournament saw them dispatch formidable opponents in the mould of North Carolina State and Louisville before losing to eventual victors, Stanford.

Despite last year’s painful end to the season, Colohan and the Cougars retain high hopes for the coming season. These hopes are undoubtedly boosted by the incoming arrivals of freshmen Tara Warner and Abbie Kotter, as well as the return of the returning veteran, Olivia Wade, who’s coming back from her mission break. “She (Wade) played such a big role on our team before her mission, so it’s exciting to have her back,” said Colohan.

Practice Match

Having been in training for weeks on end, the Cougars got together at their South Field base for a practice match pitting team blue vs. team black. The game ended in a 5-2 victory for the blue team, which had captain Colohan in its ranks. Colohan was indisputably the best player in the pitch, being involved in all 5 goals – she scored a hattrick and provided two assists. “It was really exciting to see certain individual players and the team collectively rise to the occasion and play at a high level,” she said after the game.

Freshman Kotter and the returning Wade also put up noteworthy performances, scoring from Colohan’s sharp passes early on in the game. The blue team, which arguably had the best overall players, overpowered their red counterparts in all aspects and had pretty much wrapped up the game by the 73rd minute when Colohan scored her third goal and the game’s fifth.

Notable abstentions in the scrimmage game were highflyers Daviana Vaka and Grace Johnson, who were both recuperating from knee injuries. Their spots were taken up by Danika Serassio, who graduated last year and who was a regular starter in the 2019 season. Of Serassio, Colohan said, “she was a big part of our team last year, so it kind of felt like old times having her back out there.”

Without a doubt, the Cougars will not just sit idle as they await the final NCAA verdict on the 2021 season. They will continue with their practice sessions, as well as their scrimmage games as they look to hit the ground running when the season starts.

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