By Brandon Smith
After a disappointing road trip to Southern California, the BYU women?s soccer team will take on Arizona tonight at 7 p.m. to begin a three-game homestand.
The final two games of the homestand will be Saturday against Washington State and Monday, Sept. 27, versus Hawaii.
BYU (3-4-1) played to a 1-1 tie with USC last Thursday, then lost to Loyola Marymount 2-1 on Saturday. The loss to the Lions was the Cougars? first since Sept. 4 against No. 18 Arizona State.
?We left here playing our last home game with a lot of confidence,? BYU head coach Jennifer Rockwood said. ?Now we?ve got to try and gain our confidence back with the home games this week.?
Arizona (6-1) is coming off a 4-0 win over Northern Arizona last Friday. The Wildcats? only loss this season came at the hands of No. 9 West Virginia.
BYU has played Arizona only twice in its history. The Cougars won both games by a combined score of 5-2, with the latest victory coming in 2002.
Senior forward Kamaya Damwijk and junior midfielder Mallory Miller lead the Wildcats this year. Damwijk has four goals and one assist, while Miller has three goals and seven assists. The Wildcats have a lethal offensive attack that includes four players with at least three goals. Arizona has outscored its opponents 20-3 this season.
Defensively, the Wildcats are led by freshman goalkeeper McCall Smith. A graduate of Skyline High School in Salt Lake City, Smith has posted a 0.43 goals-against-average mark this season. Aside from the West Virginia game, the only goal she allowed came against Duquesne.
The Cougars, led by junior forward Jaime Rendich, will look to improve in the offensive half of the field after scoring only one goal against both USC and Loyola Marymount.
?We?re just looking to try and flow more as a team, from the defense all the way to the forwards,? Rockwood said. ?We?re trying to click more offensively. We still have work to do, and it?s a day-by-day process.?
BYU has a relatively young team, with 20 of its 33 players listed as freshman or sophomores. Despite their inexperience, the Cougars have made significant strides since the beginning of the season.
?Our goal is to get better with each game,? Rockwood said. ?I think our defense has definitely made some improvements, and hopefully we?re learning from our mistakes on the field.?
BYU will play five more games against non-conference teams before taking on Mountain West Conference opponents. Rockwood said the early-season schedule has been demanding, but helpful.
?The schedule is very challenging this year, but hopefully it?s going to make us better come conference time,? she said. ?We at least have some game experience now, and I think we?re definitely moving in the right direction.?