Women's soccer NCAA tournament daily blog | BYU Cougar Club

Women's soccer NCAA tournament daily blog

Nov 21, 2016 - Posted by Jack Urquhart on November 21, 2016 at 8:58 am | Updated: November 21, 2016 10:15 am

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Tuesday, Nov. 15

No. 4 BYU women's soccer left for the airport on Tuesday afternoon en route to South Carolina—the site of the second and third rounds of the NCAA tournament.

The team gathered at the Indoor Practice Facility at BYU for a meal from Zupa's together before boarding the bus to the airport. The next seven hours involved getting to the airport, flying to Charlotte, North Carolina, getting dinner and checking into the hotel in Columbia, South Carolina.

A highlight of the flight was a shoutout from the captain, who told passengers that the team, with its No. 4 ranking and impending matchup with Oklahoma, was on board.

The team displayed what coaches have said about their team all season—that it's a fun group to be with on away trips.

Before leaving North Carolina, the team picked up some Southern barbecue at McKoy's Smokehouse. The consensus was that the food was delicious.

By the time the bus pulled up to the hotel, everyone was ready to get some sleep. Wednesday, with the last opportunity to practice and prepare tactically for Thursday's game, would be an important day.

Wednesday, Nov. 16

After breakfast at the hotel, the team went to practice on campus. NCAA concerns about air quality caused practice to be held in the Jerri and Steve Spurrier Indoor Practice Facility.

The pracitice facility is just one year old, with a full 100-yard football field. BYU Photo manager Jaren Wilkey took advantage of an upper walkway to get some nice shots of the impressive venue.

Following practice, the team went to Stone Stadium—the site of the NCAA second and third round games—to walk the field and pose for some photos on the well-manicured field.

That was followed by a trip to Panera, a team favorite, for lunch. The bus drove through some of downtown Columbia, and provided a sighting of the LDS institute building for the University of South Carolina.

A few hours of down time ensued, with the team gathering together for food catered by Carrabba's, with athletic director Tom Holmoe and radio broadcaster Greg Wrubell joining the players and coaches.

Thursday, Nov. 17

The team ate breakfast and then went on a walk to loosen up. After some relaxation, everyone went to lunch at Groucho's Deli as family members who made the trip began to gather together with the team.

Around 12:30 p.m., the team went back to the hotel for the last little opportunity to rest before heading out to South Stadium to prepare for the game at 4 p.m.

The bus arrived to Stone Stadium in the final minute of the South Carolina vs. Mercer men's NCAA tournament game. The players hit the field to warm up.

BYU got goals from Ashley Hatch and Michele Vasconcelos to beat Oklahoma 2-1 in front of an overwhelmingly blue and white crowd.

The tension from before and during the game was tangibly eased as the bus took the team to a new hotel. Everyone was talkative after the win and looking forward to the pizza awaiting in the lobby.

A few hours after the win agianst the Sooners, the Cougars learned they would take on top seed South Carolina in the Sweet 16 on Saturday.

Friday, Nov. 18

Today was another day of rest and practice.

After a breakfast and a few hours down time, the team again went to Panera for lunch. That was followed by a movie for some of the players, and shopping for others. 

At 4 p.m., practice was held, this time at Stone Stadium. The sun set on another beautiful day as the team prepared for the third round game.

There was just enough time for everyone to scarf down some food from Olive Garden before getting ready for a fireside the team held at an LDS church building in Columbus.

The fireside, presided over by the mission president of the South Carolina Columbia Mission, was attended by missionaries, members of the church and investigators. There were musical numbers and talks provided by soccer players and missionaries.

Sabrina Macias, Paige Hunt Barker and Taylor Isom spoke and shared their testimonies. Ashley Hatch, Michele Vasconcelos, Brittain Dearden Steiner and Paige Hunt Barker sang "Nearer My God to Thee," with Elena Medeiros accompanying on the piano. Players and coaches greeted those in attendance after the meeting.

Back at the hotel, the team and parents celebrated Paige's birthday with cupcakes and ice cream.

Saturday, Nov. 19

On the day of the Sweet 16 game, the team had a lot of time to wait before the scheduled kick. It was used to practice, each lunch, rest and then prepare for the game.

Practice was held at the South Carolina soccer practice field, which took BYU through the sporting complex that had the Gamecocks' softball field, tennis courts, sand volleyball courts and track.

Later, when the Cougars arrived at Stone Stadium for the game, the stands were beginning to fill with plenty of fans from both teams.

BYU lost 1-0, and it was a tough result to swallow for the coaches and players—especially the seniors. In the postgame press conference, head coach Jennifer Rockwood said this was the best team she's coached, and that she was proud of everyone.

A quick dinner at the hotel preceded just a few hours of sleep. Everyone woke up and met early to drive back to the Charlotte Airport. After about 12 hours of travel (including bus trips and a stop in Phoenix), the team arrived back to Provo safely.