In the News

BYU women’s soccer ready for national title game after attending church on Sunday

BYU women’s soccer ready for national title game after attending church on Sunday

The NCAA had scheduled the Division I women’s soccer title game for Sunday, Dec. 5. But the Brigham Young University women’s soccer team was attending church instead.

The NCAA moved the championship from Sunday to Monday, Dec. 6, to respect BYU’s request to avoid Sunday play. BYU faces No. 1-ranked Florida State at 6 p.m. MST. The Cougars made it to the title game in thrilling fashion, taking down defending national champion Santa Clara on its home field in penalty kicks on Friday night.

And on Sunday, when other teams perhaps would have taken advantage of an extra day to practice or workout or look at game film, the Cougars were going to church.

The BYU women’s soccer team boarded a bus and went to a Latter-day Saint meetinghouse near where they are staying in California. They posted video a on social media with the hashtag #LightTheWorld. Team members talked about how being genuine, smiling, serving a mission, serving friends and family, reading the Book of Mormon and being examples to others all are ways they Light the World.

“As [the team] preps for a potential national title tomorrow, it’s heartening to see the team together today,” BYU associate athletic director Jon McBride wrote on Sunday. “A big thanks to the NCAA for honoring BYU’s no-Sunday play policy, which is less about what we can’t do (compete) and more about what we can do (worship).”

BYU midfielder and returned missionary Olivia Wade said before Friday’s match that the team had worked hard to get to that point, and they were all so excited and grateful for the opportunity. She also said she knew this was about more than soccer.

“It’s a huge responsibility that we have to represent the Church’s school,” Wade told the Church News. “We get to be missionaries in a ton of different ways. This is an opportunity for me, as well as for other girls on the team, to kind of fill a missionary role, represent the school and try to represent our Savior through everything we do.”

“People might look at BYU and say, why do they send kids on missions, why do they have an honor code, why do they not play on Sunday? But that’s who we are, that’s what we thrive on, that’s why people come here,” BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe told the Deseret News. “The closest thing I can say is that the mission of our athletic department is aligned with the mission of our school, and that makes it easy to keep what matters in focus.”

This is BYU’s first appearance in the College Cup, and now it has the chance to play for the school’s first-ever national championship. As the Church News reported last week, qualifying for the College Cup is a monumental task. BYU has had outstanding teams in years past, yet never made it to the Final Four.

Head coach Jennifer Rockwood said this year’s team is the best the school has had “on both sides of the ball.” Rockwood has led the BYU women’s soccer team since 1995, when the program became a sanctioned sport.

BYU fans will be in the stands at Stevens Stadium in Santa Clara, California, to cheer on the team. Others will attend a watch party at the Marriott Center on BYU campus; doors open at 5:15 p.m. Everyone else can watch at 6 p.m. on ESPNU, or listen on BYUradio.

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed