BYU women's soccer 2021 season review
PROVO, Utah — The BYU women's soccer team concluded its historic season as the 2021 national runner-up, appearing in the NCAA College Cup for the first time in BYU history after a West Coast Conference championship, 17-win season and multiple national awards for players and coaches.
Finishing with a record of 17-5-2, the Cougars finished the season No. 2 in the United Soccer Coaches poll. BYU's season-long dominant offense clinched the No. 1 spot in multiple categories, scoring 77 total goals and averaging 3.50 goals per game. The Cougars' goalkeepers and backline also racked up 10 shutouts and a 0.682 goals-against average.
The Cougars were ranked No. 13 in the United Soccer Coaches poll heading into their seventh-straight NCAA Tournament appearance. BYU opened the 2021 NCAA Tournament with a 6-0 shutout over New Mexico on South Field. After a 4-1 victory over Alabama in the second round, the Cougars upset the No. 1 seed Virginia, 1-0 courtesy of Cameron Tucker's game-winning goal in the 47th minute, advancing to the Elite 8 for the fourth time in program history. BYU then defeated South Carolina 4-1 on its home field in the quarterfinals to advance to its first ever NCAA College Cup. In the Final Four, BYU advanced in penalty kicks over WCC foe Santa Clara. In the national title game, BYU fell to the No. 1 seed Florida State in penalty kicks.
The Cougars were led by seniors and best friends Mikayla Colohan and Tucker, with both players breaking multiple BYU records. Colohan was named a first team All-American, for the third time, the most in BYU women's soccer history. Colohan ended her BYU career with 53 goals and 39 assists, the second-most in BYU history in each category. She was the WCC Offensive Player of the Year, WCC Midfielder of the Year, Top Drawer Soccer Player of the Year and MAC Hermann Trophy finalist. Tucker's breakthrough senior year saw her accumulate 16 goals and eight assists. Against Saint Mary's on Oct. 6, she scored a career-high four goals, joining BYU legends Shauna Rohbock, Jenni Willardson and Bobbi Tillotson as the only players in program history to record a four-goal game. She was named an All-American for the first time in her career, being chosen on the third team. Tucker finished with the sixth-most goals in BYU women's soccer history with 43. Colohan and Tucker will both embark on their professional careers this year in the NWSL with the Orlando Pride and Gotham FC, respectively.
Six players scored their first goals as Cougars in the 2021 season: Olivia Smith, Grace Johnson, Addie Gardner, Paola Garcia, Caroline Stringfellow and Abbie Kotter. The Cougars scored at least six goals in a game eight times, and seven goals four times. The 77 total goals is the fourth-most goals in a single season in BYU women's soccer history.
The BYU coaching staff was named the National Staff of the Year by the United Soccer Coaches. Jennifer Rockwood entered her 27th season as head coach, and appeared in the NCAA Tournament for the 22nd time. Colohan, Tucker, and Laveni Vaka were named to the 2021 Women's College Cup All-Tournament team. Colohan, Tucker and Vaka were also included on the NCAA West Region First Team, along with midfielder Jamie Shepherd, while goalkeeper Cassidy Smith was named to the Third Team.
Colohan, Tucker and Shepherd were named to the 2021 All-WCC First Team, with sophomores Brecken Mozingo and Bella Folino named to the Second Team. Olivia Smith was named to the All-WCC Freshman Team, starting all 24 games with one goal and seven assists.
The 2021 BYU women's soccer banquet was held on Jan. 18, where players were recognized with awards that were voted on by the team. Colohan won the Overall MVP, Tucker won Offensive MVP and Vaka won the Defensive MVP. The Leadership Award was given to Cassidy Smith and the Improvement Award was given to Brecken Mozingo. Shepherd was honored with two team awards, the Influencer Award and the Competitor Award. Lastly, the Newcomer Award was given to Gardner.
"These girls really had a commitment from the very beginning of the season to do something that no other BYU soccer team has done," said BYU head coach Jennifer Rockwood. "They lived up to that and had really high expectations all season long. They appreciate those that have come before, and I've been blessed to be a part of that, for many years. But, they really wanted to represent. Our seniors wanted to take the program somewhere it's never been, and they've done that. What it does now, is it creates an environment for our younger players to aspire to do even more things."