These last four years have been filled with many memories for the seniors on the Utah soccer team, and the most important thing that they have taken away from their experience at the U as soccer players was the friendships they made on the team.
To Cabria Turang, the relationships have meant the world. From doing everything together, eating, practicing, studying, the team has become close and it has been the best, according to Turang. Hannah Hyde feels the same way.
“We have just built some really great relationships,” Hyde said. “And a lot of great opportunities come from being involved with athletics, so it has been a very positive experience.”
Heading into the offseason, the seniors started feeling nostalgic as they realized these were going to be the last few games they would play as Utes. Hyde said that she and her teammates are looking forward to new phases in their lives. Even though they don’t want to leave their close friends, the seniors can’t help but be excited because they have worked so hard to get to where they are now.
“It’s our last year playing, so who knows what the future will bring,” said Katie Rogers. “We are just living in the moment and taking it one day at a time and loving every single moment.”
As they look back on their last four years, Addie Jensen explained that soccer has been a part of her life for so long, but her time at the U has exceeded any other soccer related experiences. Jensen used to come to the camps that were held at Utah when she was younger, and to end her four years here is the biggest blessing. She couldn’t ask for anything better.
Taylor Slattery feels that this team has been through hell and back, both on and off the field. Gaining the relationships with all the players created a second family on the team and it is something that they will cherish for the rest of their lives.
“It has been a really great experience playing at a Pac-12 school,” said Mikayla Elmer. “I think that this year, especially with the team chemistry, has been one of the strongest teams we have had for sure.”
In the last four years, the seniors have accumulated many great and memorable memories on the field. For Slattery, it was the game against Colorado her freshman year when they won the game in overtime and they got into the NCAA tournament.
For Hyde, it was last year in preseason. The team traveled to Chicago and Milwaukee and during their time in those cities, there was some sort of festival going on downtown. Hyde doesn’t know if they asked for permission, but they were walking home from dinner and they just stayed at the festival and just danced. But for Jensen, her favorite memory happens off the field everyday.
“I just like the jokes that we were cracking at practice, honestly,” Jensen said. “We just have a lot of big personalities and it just makes it even more fun.”
Head coach Rich Manning recognizes how much this group of seniors has accomplished. They have continued the standard of how hard Utah soccer works year round and they have been 100 percent committed to developing as players and as a team.
What Manning is most proud of is how the team has excelled under adverse conditions. In the past few years, many of the seniors went through physical challenges and frustrations, because the team was not as successful as they had hoped, especially in some of the more recent years. But Manning saw that they kept believing, they kept faith in themselves and each other and they trusted what they were trying to do as a program. To see them succeed this year is really rewarding for Manning.
“It could have really gone off the rail these last few years,” Manning said. “Even though we weren’t winning as many games as we wanted, we knew that they were trying to do the right things and we were really close. I think their determination and commitment level has been really fatastic. I think it is something that will serve them well when they graduate and move on.”
Rogers added that the team had gone through so much together — the ups, the downs — especially with the senior class. After making it to the NCAA tournament their freshman year, the team struggled. According to Rogers, her team had to fight back. In 2016 they got back in the tournament and they even won their first game.
“These past fews years we haven’t done that great, so with it being my last year and making it to the tournament, it has been so fun,” Turang said.
“This team is just so special.”
Moving on they will be doing. Turang plans to move back to California to do her year of student-teaching and the other seniors are planning on going to graduate school. They then hope to get jobs, apply for internships and travel the world. Hyde, along with going to school for her masters degree, will be planning her wedding. Even though life is happening for these women, it won’t stop them from playing soccer. Slattery, however, has something else planned.
“Graduate school and maybe play a little indoor, but I’m going to take a little break from soccer I think,” Slattery said. “It has been all I know so it is going to be quite the transition. It will be fun to experience some new things.”
But even though they will be leaving, the seniors know the team will be in capable hands with the remaining players. Elmer feels that the freshmen have done a great job of stepping up and having a voice on the team and Jensen thinks that the team will remain solid.
“Utah has them for another three years after this one,” Jensen said. “We have a great set of keepers back there, and we have Hailey [Skolmoski] who is still sticking around up top, so I think they will be great next year.”