The BYU women’s soccer team sealed the deal on a 3-peat as West Coast Conference Champions despite losing to No. 12 Pepperdine on Saturday afternoon. Here are five things that helped the team rally to three straight conference titles.
1. Goal scoring
Goal scoring has always been a vital part of BYU’s game plan. The Cougar attack has generated good offensive output over the past three seasons, a crucial part of the team’s success in a quest to win conference again in 2014. In 2012, the team scored 51 goals, with an average of 2.12 goals per game. In 2013, the team’s output saw a decrease, with only 39 goals coming from 1.86 nets per game. This season the Cougars stepped things back up, scoring 47 through the regular season and averaging 2.35 goals per contest. Over the past three seasons, 26 multiple goal scorers have played for BYU. Sophmore Ashley Hatch leads the BYU offense with 18 goals this year.
2. Strong defense
Since 2012, BYU has only allowed 46 total goals while scoring 137 of its own. That’s about a 1:3 ratio of goals allowed to goals scored for the Cougars. In 2012 and 2013, the goal was managed by one of the all-time greats for BYU, Erica Owens. This season, Kat Snyder had some big shoes to fill, and she stepped into those poised to anchor the defense. A tenacious defense led by Snyder, and center backs Annie Amos and Taylor Campbell Isom have only allowed 18 goals this season. Sarah Chambers’ move from forward to defense also helped bolster the Cougars’ back-line, with strong play also coming from Avery Calton, Rachel Bingham and Miranda Bailey.
3. Midfielders who can generate offense
The BYU midfield has been able to generate many goals over the past three years. Since 2012, 39 goals have been scored by the midfield alone. Holding on the defensive end while pushing the ball toward the forwards has been key to the success of each championship team. The current starting midfielders, Marissa Nimmer, Elena Medeiros and Elisabeth Phillips, have notched 12 goals this season, contributing to the team total of 47. The midfield has been a connecting force through the entire season and will be counted on to deliver during the NCAA Tournament.
4. Conference play
In 2012, the Cougars went 7-0-1 in conference play. The next season, the team went 8-1. This season, the team managed a conference record of 7-1-1. That means BYU lost only two games total through all three championship seasons. Both losses were against ranked opponents, with a 2013 loss coming to Santa Clara and this year’s one loss coming at the hands of the Pepperdine Waves.
5. Teams with an attitude to win
A common trait all three championship teams possessed was a great desire to win. With a slow start to the season, the BYU team did everything necessary to turn things around and finish with a conference title.
“I’m really, really proud of this group of girls for the season we’ve had,” said BYU head coach Jennifer Rockwood. “We had a rocky start, and the girls have continued to work hard every game. Winning another WCC championship is unbelievable.”
BYU will play its first NCAA tournament game against Colorado on Saturday, Nov. 15, at 1 p.m. in Colorado.