Men’s soccer prepares for playoff push

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BYU soccer will play two games this weekend at home as they look to continue a two-game winning streak.

BYU will play against perennial division powerhouse Ventura County on Friday before squaring off with the Pali Blues on Saturday night.

Ventura County has earned a 6-1-2 record in part to a division-leading 24 goals in nine games played, a record that is good enough for second place in the Southwest Division of the Premiere Development League.

“We’re going to have to be very smart with the kind of pressure we put on them,” said coach Chris Watkins. “They’ve got tons of talent, so we’ve go to be smart and disciplined.”

The Pali Blues, currently at the bottom of the division standings, will look to avenge a loss on 1 June against BYU. The game Saturday presents a possible trap game for the Cougars following the game on Friday, but the players are trying to be careful to not overlook Pali.

“Once Friday’s game is over, win, loss, or tie, we’ve got to move on, leave Ventura in the past, and win on Saturday,” said freshman midfielder Dallin Cutler.

Riding a two-game winning streak, BYU soccer looks to utilize this weekend’s matches to propel its way into the top of the competitive Southwest Division of the Premiere Development League. After consecutive blowout victories last weekend, the team knows that the upcoming games will play a key role in defining its postseason aspirations.

“We’re happy about last weekend, but last weekend is last weekend,” junior midfielder Toni Niccoli said. “We have to get six points this weekend. This weekend and the next are going to tell the tale for the season.”

The Cougars currently sit in seventh place in the division standings, but the next two games could springboard them into postseason contention. The players are confident that the team can qualify for the PDL playoffs for the first time since 2007.

“We made that a goal at the beginning of the season to make the playoffs and that’s what the players are working for,” Cutler said. “We’re all together in making the playoffs.”

The team exploded for nine goals while dismantling the visiting Orange County Blue Star and Southern California Seahorses in two matches last weekend. After sweeping the pair of matches in The Stadium at South Field, the Cougars hope that home field advantage will help them finish off the four-game home stand with two more wins.

“It’s really rare to have back to backs on two weekends in a row,” Watkins said. “It’s huge for us.”

The players are hoping that the crowd’s impact will be an advantage in the two upcoming matches.

“When the fans get involved and are behind us, it just makes things go,” Niccoli said. “They played a huge role in last weekend.”

Both games will start at 8 p.m. at the South Field Stadium.

 

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