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When Momola Adesanmi first moved to Columbia her freshman year, she said, Macy Trujillo was among the first to make her feel like she “was not distant from home.” Adesanmi’s mother planned on moving back to Nigeria after her daughter left for college. Saying goodbye to her mother after moving in was emotional for the freshman.

“Macy was the first one that noticed, as soon as my mom rolled out the parking lot, that I was not OK,” Adesanmi said. “How she made me feel that freshman year was amazing.”

That same year, Trujillo and Cassidy Nurnberger became best friends. The pair noticed that all the seniors on the team had their own “super cool” handshakes.

“Of course as freshmen we’re like, ‘Oh, we have to make our own cool handshake,” Nurnberger said.

The senior duo now do that handshake before every match.

Righthand high-five, then a high-five with the left with arms crossed; pretend to walk away before finally coming back for a chest bump.

The handshake will be performed one last time in a Missouri kit Thusday.

“It’s honestly just heartbreaking because the sport that I’ve played for so, so many years is finally coming to an end,” Trujillo said. “I think when anything comes to an end it’s just really sad. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t on my mind the majority of days since Sunday.”

The Tigers were officially eliminated from postseason contention with a loss to Kentucky on Sunday. This has been an underachieving season for the program, but it won’t overshadow the highs the three fifth-year players had throughout the years.

For Adesanmi, winning a conference tournament match her freshman year stood out. Trujillo recalled her first collegiate goal against Illinois — which she scored with her weaker left foot, which she would “never use.” For Nurnberger, the 2020 Pink Game against Vanderbilt, in which she scored the winning goal, comes to mind.

These moments and times have brought the three close together.

“To see our development as 18-year-olds to now 23-year-olds, the relationship I have with them is just seeing our character development,” Adesanmi said. “I just want to see more development throughout life with them. I know that it’s not going to be a relationship that ends here.”

And through the twists and turns five years of collegiate soccer can bring, they may have had the biggest change in the summer before their final season began. Stefanie Golan was hired as coach, replacing the retired Bryan Blitz.

“I’m just thankful that I was able to have some kind of mark and leave some kind of legacy on this new program,” Nurnberger said. “To know that, when I can look back, I know that I was part of the building blocks in laying this new foundation.”

While there have been growing pains this season, the three are confident in the future of the program. Adesanmi said that, as long as Golan is at Missouri, the staff will hear her cheer.

“It’s just been a privilege, I can see where Mizzou is going and I was part of where it was,” Adesanmi said. “It’s been a privilege to be on both sides of history.”

While Nurnberger wants to continue and play professionally, the other two are probably finishing their careers Thursday. It likely marks the end of five years of collegiate soccer and the end of their competitive soccer careers.

As the day passes and kickoff approaches, that will become more prevalent.

“We’ve all been a little bit sad, but the game — we have nothing to lose,” Trujillo said. “I think the emotions will be high, but not in a negative way at all. ... I think after the game, they’re obviously going to be a little bit sad, but that’s just part of the journey.”

As time expires on the game clock and their collegiate careers, tears may follow.

“I know, as that whistle blows, all three of us are just gonna come together, full of emotion, hugging each other and knowing that, like, we did the thing,” Nurnberger said. “All five years together, it was not easy at all, but knowing that we made it together is super awesome.”

While the days of finding — as Nurnberger put it — Adesanmi napping on the locker room couches may be coming to an end, the relationships between the three will continue.

This article originally ran on columbiamissourian.com.

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