Before Saturday’s final home match against Portland, BYU women’s soccer honored two seniors from the 2109 season, five seniors who will likely chose to return and play in the fall, two seniors who are graduating in April and Portland’s two seniors.

The pandemic created a very unusual Senior Day.

The match between No. 17 BYU and Portland was much more what the home fans have come to expect at South Field as the Cougars rolled to a 4-0 victory, scoring half as many goals in one outing against the Pilots as the vistors had allowed in nine previous games.

“Portland has done a great job all year,” BYU coach Jennifer Rockwood said. “A lot of the scouting report was that they haven’t given up many looks. They’ve only given up eight goals all season. We knew it was going to be hard getting in behind them but the way we moved the ball we were just wearing them down. Even though we didn’t get a lot of shots, the looks we got were really good and effective.”

BYU scored a pair of goals in a three-minute span of the first half to take control. In the 15th minute, Bella Folino gathered in a loose ball in the box after an initial volley by Cameron Tucker and fired in a shot for a 1-0 lead.

Just short of three minutes later, Rachel McCarthy blasted in a bomb from about 30 yards out into the side netting for a 2-0 advantage.

In the 19th minute, BYU goalkeeper Cassidy Smith came racing out from her line to challenge Portland’s Hannah McCord and was assessed a yellow card in the box. Smith responded by stoning McCord’s penalty kick, a goal that would have surely turned momentum to the visitor’s side.

“Cass is always making big-time saves like that,” BYU senior defender Josie Gelalich said. “We definitely have that trust and faith in her to make those kind of saves.”

In the 33rd minute, McCarthy’s shot was deflected away but stayed in the box. Breckin Mozingo beat the Portland keeper to the loose ball and slotted a shot into the goal for a 3-0 lead.

Ashton Brockbank Johnson completed the scoring for the Cougars in the 54th minute, taking a Tucker pass and sending a hard shot that scooted between the Portland keeper’s legs for a 4-0 lead. Rockwood was able to pretty much clear her bench the last ten minutes of the game.

Two seniors who were honored were Brinley Buhler and Josie Manwell, who were both injured in the spring of 2020. Two other players – Natalie Clark Ball and Gelalich – are graduating this month. Ball is going to be a zookeeper in Memphis, Tennessee and Gelalich, who majored in Human Development with a minor in physiology, will join her husband Danny (currently in the BYU baseball team) at graduated school.

“It’s been crazy,” Josie Gelalich said. “This season have been nothing like I expected. I’m so grateful we’ve been able to have a somewhat normal season. We were able to play 18 games and had a good season of competing. There’s no better way than ending on a win like this and it feels good.”

BYU (11-3-1 overall, 7-1-1 WCC) awaits an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

“I feel really comfortable with it,” Rockwood said. “We’ve had a fantastic season. We were very intent on playing some really tough competition. We could have gone a lot softer like some teams did but we really pushed it. Our three losses were to top 15 teams then we beat Santa Clara, which was a really significant win for us. We had a solid win against Pepperdine and they were in the Top 25 when we played them. You never know for sure, but I feel like we’ve done what we needed to do to get into the tournament.”

The NCAA will announce pairings for the 48-team tournament field on Monday. The entire tournament will be held in Carey, North Carolina and the surrounding area beginning April 27.

In 2019, BYU advanced to the Elite Eight before losing the eventual champion Stanford.

Follow Darnell Dickson on Twitter @darnellwrites or e-mail him at ddickson@heraldextra.com.

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