Senior night Saturday was a scene of mixed emotions.
There were tears, there were smiles and there were hugs. There were words of encouragement and words of grief, as it was a bittersweet end to the college soccer careers of seven Zags. Jakob Granlund, Nick Ulowetz, Graison Le, Dustin Ferger, Zach Hudson, Alec Johnson and Thomas O’Brien all played their final game at Luger Field in a 1-1 double-overtime draw with Pacific.
It was sweet because the Zags got to play spoiler to a Pacific team hoping to clinch a West Coast Conference title, but bitter as they ended their season with a tie and an 8-8-2 record.
What’s more, it marks the end of an era for the seniors.
“It is extremely bittersweet knowing that I will never be able to play with these guys again,” Ulowetz said. “But I am so proud to have shared the field with every single one of them.”
Pacific struck first, scoring 16 minutes into the first half, but Ulowetz and Granlund answered at the 61-minute mark. Granlund stole the ball and lofted a pass to Ulowetz who was able to head it home. It was the fifth goal for Ulowetz and sixth assist for Granlund — both are team highs.
The two had never played up front together until this year, but managed to connect for goals several times throughout the season.
“Oh my god I am nothing without this guy,” Ulowetz said laughing and gesturing to Granlund.
The two have been friends since they stepped onto campus as wide-eyed freshman, until now, when they shared a hug at midfield following their last game together.
"We have been really good friends since freshman year,” Ulowetz said. “It’s been that way with every single one of these guys.”
The Zags are graduating seven seniors, but will return 20 underclassmen, and eight starters.
Though they were disappointed with the loss, Granlund and Ulowetz both said they understand they are part of something bigger than themselves and are excited to see what the Zags do next.
“The progress we have made from last year to this year has been huge and there is only more to come,” Granlund said. “Last year we had a really tough time bouncing back when we have been down, and today, and multiple times this year we have been able to get that goal back and get back into the game.”
Their last game has just come to an end, but Ulowetz can’t help but look forward for his team.
“They are going to be so great next year,” he said with a smile.