Provo • Ranked No. 5 in the nation, BYU soccer hasn’t lost a match since last year’s NCAA tournament first-round loss to TCU, Nov. 9. The Cougars’ winning streak is back on track after a hiccup a couple of weeks ago when BYU and Santa Clara finished in a draw.
BYU will start the last handful of regular season games Wednesday when they play at Portland.
One of the key pieces in the Cougars’ success has been midfielder Makayla Colohan, who is having a breakout season. The junior has 10 goals, five assists and 62 shots (30 on goal) in 14 games. Colohan has been named the West Coast Conference Player of the Week twice this season, most recently Oct. 14.
And what has helped Colohan improve on the pitch? It’s been a couple things — chemistry and a summer with the Utah Royals FC Reserves.
“That's always the goal,” Colohan said of improving her game. “But our team's playing done really well and it's easy to play good when you team's playing good. So, that's kind of all come together.”
Forward Cameron Tucker and Colohan started playing together when they were kids.
Shortly after the Fruit Heights and Highland natives played against each other — Tucker with Utah Celtic FC and Colohan with Utah Youth Soccer Association’s La Roca team — the pair joined forces, playing on the U.S. Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program (ODP).
A decade after they started playing together, Colohan and Tucker always planned on attending BYU together and playing on the soccer team. But they may have just reached a new level.
The two are practically inseparable.
When they're not on the pitch, they live together and have all the same classes.
It's not that exciting, and may even seem slightly boring, but one of their favorite things to do is watching their favorite shows, like NBC's This is Us and ABC's A Million Little Things, together. They will avoid watching the latest episode until they're both home and have finished their homework.
“We’re pretty much like sisters — we’re inseparable,” Tucker said.
The history between Tucker and Colohan has led to an unbreakable chemistry on the field. Especially as a midfielder, Colohan is the one every player wants to find on the field. The game plan revolves around Colohan, Tucker said.
“It's just fun to play what you love doing with a really good friend,” Colohan said. “It makes that chemistry come naturally.”
And they're not the only players at BYU to have played together before becoming a Cougar.
Defenders Rachel Bingham Lyman and Alyssa Jefferson have also been playing on the same team since they were kids and were part of six Sparta United players that were recruited by head coach Jennifer Rockwood that included former standouts like Bizzy Phillips and Jessica Ringwood.
Bingham Lyman and Jefferson both came to BYU in 2014, but left on their respective missions to Guatemala and El Salvador after one season. Both returned for the 2016 season and will finish out their college eligibility this year.
“Just the fact that they've known each other and have competed together, they're a great combination playing right next to each other on the field,” Rockwood said.
Colohan, Tucker, Jefferson, forward Elise Flake and defender Danika Serassio all played for the Women's Premier Soccer League May-July. In their inaugural season, the team made a run for a championship title that fell just short, in extra time in the title match against Pensacola FC.
“That is a huge advantage to be able to stay in a training environment, especially at a professional training environment, and be able to compete and have games through the summer the college kids don't really get,” Rockwood said. “We can't do much with them at the end of our season in April until Augus again. So, that's a big block. And the fact that they were able to train, compete, continue to improve their game and build their confidence goes a long way. So, that was a great experience for them.”
As a junior, Rockwood believes Colohan still has more to give. She can be more.
Right now, Colohan is still working on her consistency. The Cougars' attack is built around getting the ball to Colohan, which opposing teams have tried to prevent, so the midfielder is learning how to find more gaps and demand the ball from her teammates.
However, Colohan's strength can't be kept in a stat book. Her biggest asset, Rockwood said, is how she impacts the team.
“I think that what Kayla has been able to do is to play at such a high level that she’s also making players around her better and more confident,” Rockwood said. “And again, I think just her maturity and her leadership on the field now, as a junior, you can really see that grow and that growth will continue throughout the rest of the season and certainly help her next year during her senior season.”