By ELIZABETH PALMER
Want to spend an evening cheering on a nationally ranked NCAA Division I team? If the answer is yes, the opportunity is close by. BYU’s 19th-ranked women’s soccer team will play two games this weekend at the South Field in Provo, taking on Colorado Friday night and Portland State on Saturday.
Friday’s game will be the first time ever BYU has faced the University of Colorado. Colorado’s women’s soccer team is only in its third year of existence, but BYU coach Jennifer Rockwood expects the Buffaloes to be one of their stronger home opponents this season.
“They’re coming off a successful weekend at home,” Rockwood said. “They’re a good, solid, tough opponent.”
Colorado comes into the game with a record of 1-1. That one loss was in their season opener against No. 1 ranked North Carolina, the defending national champions. Colorado lost that game 2-0, and “not many teams hold North Carolina to only two goals,” Rockwood said.
Portland State will be coming into town on Saturday, and Rockwood expects the game to be a challenge for the team. She sees it as a chance to “make sure we’re up to two games back to back.”
The Vikings are also one of only two teams to beat the Cougars at home, said Rockwood. But the team remains confident. “We should be able to handle them,” Rockwood said.
There is a lot expected of the Cougars this season, as they were the unanimous pick to win the 1998 WAC Pacific Division Crown and the conference championship this preseason.
Coming off a good season last year and ranked among the top 25 this year, the Cougars “expect to win all our home games, but we’ll have to earn them,” Rockwood said. “I feel very positive about the team, we got off to a good start with our road wins in the east.”
Keeping their home winning-streak alive will be made tougher on the Cougars this weekend, as Junior midfielder and the team’s current leading scorer Maren Hendershot has been out sick since last Saturday’s game and may not be able to play. The Cougars will also be without Sophomore defender Erin Murphy, who will be out 3-4 weeks with a knee sprain.
Kickoff Friday will be at 7 p.m., with Saturday’s game getting under way at 5 p.m. “And we love to have a big crowd cheering us on,” Rockwood said.