PROVO — As has largely been the case throughout the season, BYU's soccer seniors were shining bright during Saturday's regular season finale, in what was appropriately dubbed 'Senior Night.' The result was a 6-0 romp over visiting Gonzaga in front of a standing-room-only South Field crowd of 4,530.
Four goals scored in the first half, all of them by graduating seniors, set the tone early as the Cougars captured a share of the West Coast Conference Championship, for the fifth straight time. The Zags showed better in the second half, limiting Cougar offensive possessions while proving more proactive on their end, but it was far too little too late.
"It's just such an amazing group of seniors and everybody is just so proud of what they've done for this program," said BYU coach Jennifer Rockwood. "To go out of a regular season like this — you couldn't have asked for a better ending for them."
The Cougars' first goal was sent in by senior midfielder Paige Hunt Barker at the 11:40 mark, courtesy of a very live shot-on-goal by junior Nadia Gomes. Gomes' long attempt ricocheted off the Gonzaga goalie's hands, setting up a wide-open net for Barker.
Gomes also provided the second goal in defending a clearing attempt. Gomes raced down to win the ball, then sent in a perfect cross to Michele Vasconcelos who tapped in a goal for a 2-0 Cougar lead at the 17:38 mark.
Just 57 seconds later, Vasconcelos again found the back of the net off an assist from Elena Madeiros for a commanding 3-0 lead. For Vasconcelos, it was her fifth straight match with at least one goal scored.
"She's just an unbelievable player and an unbelievable person," Rockwood said of Vasconcelos. "She's just been so huge for the success of this program — especially this year, but also the five years she's been with us."
One of the better moments of the match came with senior Miranda Bailey Topham connecting on a header at the 36:50 mark. For Topham, it was her first career goal, and came as a result of a corner cross from junior Madie Lyons.
"It was fantastic," Rockwood said of Topham topping out the regular season in style. "Miranda has been working on headers for five years now, and it was pretty great to see her end the regular season with a heading goal."1 comment on this story
Gomes connected on one of her own at the 53:16 mark before senior and leading goal-scorer Ashley Hatch appropriately ended the scoring, putting through a penalty kick at the 71:44 mark, pushing the score to 6-0.
The team celebrated its fifth straight WCC title after, a designation it shares with Pepperdine this season. Next up for the no. 4-ranked Cougars is the NCAA tournament, where they'll likely be granted a high seed, allowing them to host two or three matches in the 64-team tournament.
The Cougars will learn of their draw in the tournament on Monday during the NCAA selection show, which starts at 2:30 p.m. MST.