It’s early in their BYU soccer careers, but sophomore Mikayla Colohan and freshman Olivia Wade have already set very high expectations.

Colohan and Wade are both starters for the Cougars, who open the West Coast Conference schedule at home against Gonzaga on Thursday. BYU coach Jennifer Rockwood has altered her team’s offensive scheme to allow Colohan, an attacking midfielder and Wade, a holding mid, free rein in the middle of the field.

“She (Wade) is fantastic, just so solid with McKayla,” Rockwood said. “We changed our formation to play with just two central players. They’re so good they’ve been able to handle that role and that space.”

It’s in an effort to help produce the same prolific chemistry that Colohan and Wade displayed in three seasons together at Davis High School in Kaysville.

While at Davis, they helped lead the Darts to a 57-3-0 record and three straight Class 5A championships. In three seasons, Colohan and Wade combined for 131 goals. When Colohan was a senior and Wade a junior, the two players scored 70 goals and dished out 57 assists between them.

Colohan graduated and came to BYU, missing eight games due to injury her freshman season but still managing three goals and five assists. This year, Colohan is healthy and has three goals and three assists while leading the team in shots (41) and is currently second in shots on goal (14).

“Mikayla has played phenomenal soccer so far,” Rockwood said. “Last year, she started, then got hurt in the second game. She lost a month of training and competition but she came back and played well in conference. She’s playing at such a higher level than last year.”

Wade decided to bypass her senior season at Davis to train with the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, competing against top teams around the country.

“It really helped prepare me to be on the college level,” Wade said. “It was exactly what I expected it to be. I loved all of the girls on my high school team, but it came down to what was going to benefit me the most. I was playing with and against some of the best players in the world.”

Holding mid is a new position for Wade, so she’s adjusting to the change and added responsibility. A holding midfielder specializes in ball skills (passing and dribbling) and keys the offensive attack from the back line to the middle of the field.

“It’s the connection of the back line,” Rockwood said. “It’s the first position to slow things down and how we release pressure out of the back. We’ve been doing a better job getting the ball to Liv to build from the back and getting it to Mikayla where she’s most dangerous.

“Liv brings so much poise and experience and talent to the field. We put her in in that spot from the very beginning. We still want to use her a little more effective offensively and get her further up the field.”

Wade scored her first goal of the season in last week’s 3-1 victory against Utah Valley and said the winning chemistry with Colohan is still there.

“It’s really cool,” Wade said. “I’m like, ‘Hey, there you are again.’ We’re definitely very comfortable playing with each other. I feel like we haven’t skipped a beat.”

The Colohan-Wade connection has helped BYU improve on the offensive side and become more dangerous. The Cougars started 3-4-1 last season and scored just 13 goals in the preseason. This year, BYU is 5-3-1 and has scored 23 goals.

“We’ve played together a long time,” Colohan said. “We play super well together. We read each other and I love having her on the field with me. She was playing more of an attacking position in high school but she’s very versatile and can play anywhere.”

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

Darnell Dickson, who has been covering sports in Utah since 1989 (with a detour to Nebraska for three years somewhere in there), is currently the BYU football columnist and BYU men’s basketball beat writer.

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