Seniors’ Legacy: A Bright Future for Soccer

Junior Mayme Conroy will return to the Nebraska Soccer Team next year.

By Randy York

Nebraska’s Historic Season Ends

Jaycie Johnson: Heart of a Husker

A good half hour after Friday’s 4-1 Nebraska loss to Boston College in the second-round of the NCAA Soccer Tournament, two student-athletes – freshman forward Jaycie Johnson and junior forward Mayme Conroy – were the last two players off the Nebraska Soccer Field. Both continued to sign autographs for the last dozen kids who waited patiently in the cold and both had recovered enough emotionally to share their thoughts on a remarkable season.

“This program has done a 360 spin, and I’m just proud of my teammates and our coaching staff,” Johnson said. “It’s been a great year. We just have to make sure we build off what we accomplished this year. We won the Big Ten regular season, the Big Ten Tournament and made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Our six seniors brought so much to the table, and I’m just so happy and so proud I got to play with them. I learned so much from them. They taught me as a player and as a person.”

The seniors’ biggest legacy is the new foundation they built for Nebraska Soccer. “The last couple years weren’t so great, but our seniors helped us get our confidence back,” Conroy said. “We have a lot of freshmen coming in next year and if we can transition them into the program like we transitioned Jaycie this year, the future looks bright.”

High-Level Competition the Key to Next Season

Johnson, Nebraska’s leading scorer as a freshman, is ready to accept the leadership challenge. “We have a huge class of freshmen coming in and I’m excited to see the competition that will create,” she said. “It’s going to be high-level competition, and my goal is to help next year’s freshmen like our seniors helped me this year. I want to make it easier for those first-year players to come in here relaxed and ready to play like I was able to do this year. If everyone sells out on the field next year like we did this year, we’ll be good.”

John Walker, Nebraska’s veteran head soccer coach, said Friday that this year’s championship team thrived on urgency and effort and that was evident even in the disappointing loss. “Our girls played fantastically hard like they have all season,” he said. “The effort was there from the beginning to the end.”

After the loss, Walker told his players they had a “terrific season” in terms of the number of wins, how they’ve carried themselves, how they’ve competed, plus the sportsmanship component that’s reflective of a clean team that doesn’t foul. “They’ve had a great season,” he said. “We’re in a tough conference. We’re finally someone who was able to win a conference title besides Penn State. They were able to get the program back into the tournament, so it was fantastic.”

Soccer Administrator: Nebraska Back on Radar

Steve Waterfield, Nebraska’s Associate Athletic Director in charge of Performance and Strategic Research as well as NU’s soccer and tennis teams, commended Walker’s team Friday. “When the season started, they were off everyone’s radar. They got on the radar very quickly and they stayed there all season,” he said. “That’s a testament to what they accomplished, and the key now is to build off what they’ve done. I think it was great the way they re-established the program. It’s on the right trajectory.

“When opposing administrators show their appreciation and respect for what Jaycie brings to the field, you know what kind of talent she has,” Waterfield said. “It’s wonderful for this program that she’ll be back for three more years. I think we’re all going to enjoy watching that … the future really is bright.”

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