Mikayla Colohan takes her game to the next level
A lot of people dream of playing the sport they love at a college level, but not many make that dream a reality. Junior midfielder Mikayla Colohan did just that that – and she’s making a name for herself along the way.
The locker room buzzes with energy as the BYU women’s soccer team gets ready to fight for another WCC championship. “Pretty Boy Swag” by Soulja Boy bounces off the lockers and into the halls, like it always does before games. The room is electric, and the Cougars are ready to play.
The flood lights reflect off the South Field grass as the team begins its stand against top-ranked Santa Clara. After a season of hard fought wins, a victory tonight would secure the conference title and get the team a bid to the NCAA Tournament, something that Colohan, who was a sophomore at the time, hadn’t yet experienced.
Momentum grew as each team took shot after shot on goal, trying to set the tone of the game and be the first team to score. In the 14th minute, Colohan intercepted a goal kick and fired a shot into Santa Clara’s goal. The crowd roared – Colohan had put BYU on the board.
“My favorite memory from a game at BYU is probably scoring against Santa Clara last year,” Colohan said. “I remember having a lot of nerves, but good nerves. Right as the game started, all of us had that certain feeling where you know you’re going to do well in a game, and we went out on the field and ran with that.”
The championship game ended with a 2-0 win for the Cougars and Colohan had helped BYU clinch its 19th NCAA Tournament appearance in the program’s 24-year history.
Whether it is was setting up a teammate or taking the shot herself, the sophomore midfielder had become a force on offense for the Cougars. Colohan ended the 2018 season leading the team with seven assists while scoring five goals of her own.
Colohan was a decorated player before going into her sophomore year, bagging All-WCC honors in 2017, but her 2018 season earned her more All-WCC recognition, as well as a spot on the United Soccer Coaches All-America Second Team.
With expectations growing higher after her breakout season in 2018, Colohan knows she needs to meet them. As her junior season begins, she plans to approach her game the way she always has.
“Something I’ve been telling myself lately when things get stressful is ‘go with the flow, and stay in the present’. Those two things have made a big difference in my experiences here,” Colohan said.
Although BYU is her home now, that wasn’t always the plan. The Utah native grew up cheering for the Cougars, and committed early to a program that had made a huge name for itself in the world of college soccer. But it wasn’t the championships or the program itself that cemented Colohan’s decision.
“I committed to BYU my freshman year, which is pretty young looking back on it, but I thought I knew what I wanted,” Colohan said. “My junior year, I started second guessing myself, and I pretty much decomitted. I was deciding between BYU and Utah, and it was coming down to the wire.”
With pressure mounting from both schools to decide, Colohan turned to family to clear her head and seek advice.
“I texted my cousin Cloee and asked her what she thought I should do,” Colohan said.
Cloee played for BYU from 2012-13, and was a decorated soccer star outside of the Cougar program as well, including runs in the U-17 World Cup and U-20 National Team.
When it came to Colohan’s final choice, Cloee knew where to guide her – but the advice she gave stemmed from a more personal attachment to BYU and what the school stands for.
“In a nutshell, I was struggling at Portland,” recalled Cloee, who spent her first few years playing for the University of Portland before transferring to BYU. “The gospel, friends, my coaches. After winter break of my sophomore year, I went back to start winter semester and it just didn’t feel right. The Spirit was so strong, I knew I had to leave.”
“I just tried to explain to her how amazing my experience was at BYU and continue to support her in her decision,” Cloee said.
Although the outcome wasn’t always certain, Colohan is more than positive that coming to BYU was the best choice for her personal life, as well as her soccer career. With the school’s foundation in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the coaches’ commitment to honor and excellence, Colohan knew she would thrive.
“The lifestyles that the coaches live are such good examples,” Colohan said. “They are really encouraging and great supporters. They care about us more than just as soccer players, and it makes us want to succeed and play well for them.”
The All-American opened up the 2019 season playing at the same level as the previous year, scoring goals against Alabama and Mississippi State in the first week. Colohan collected West Coast Conference Player of the Week for the first and helped boost the Cougars into the national rankings.
Moving forward, Colohan wants to meet the expectations of her coaches, teammates and fans and continue to raise the bar. As she continues to be a centerpiece of the team’s attack, the junior is on track to carry on the Colohan legacy at BYU and leave her name in the record books.
“You always want to build on what you’ve done,” Colohan said. “In any way I can, I want to take every aspect of my game to the next level and continue to succeed.”
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