Eight returning starters give BYU women’s soccer high expectations this season

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The BYU women’s soccer team has eight returning starters and a competitive schedule making this season one full of high expectations.

“I think this season is going to be a special year because we have so many returning players,” Marissa Nimmer Linehan, senior midfielder, said.

Ari Davis
Ashley Hatch takes the ball down the field towards the goal in the game against Colorado College. Hatch is a player to watch this season as the Cougars take on a competitive schedule. (Ari Davis)

According to head coach Jennifer Rockwood, last season was one of the youngest teams BYU has had in a decade. Because of that, it took the girls a few games to find their stride. Once they did, they won 11 consecutive games before losing to Colorado in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

With so much experience on the field, they are hoping they can just jump right back to where they were.

“We’re miles ahead of where we’ve been before,” defender Taylor Campbell Isom said. “We’re going to be the hardest working team on the field at all times, and we will do whatever it takes to win.”

The soccer team graduated three starters: forward Niki Fernandes, WCC Defender of the Year Annie Amos and goalkeeper Katherine Snyder, but essentially every main weapon from last season is back.

Greg Wrubbel, play-by-play radio broadcaster for BYU IMG Sports Nation, said that 87 percent of last years’ goals are back.

Wrubbel described the coming season as one full of “heightened expectations with a productive arsenal of returning players.”

Forward Ashley Hatch, who scored 18 goals last season, Elena Medeiros and Michelle Murphy are three weapons Rockwood will likely utilize this season.

Rockwood said the goals this year are the same as they have been for the last 20 years: Get better with every game, win a conference championship and advance deep into the NCAA tournament.

The team has a tough schedule ahead of them. The WCC is a competitive conference and the non-conference schedule is highlighted by six Pac-12 games. The Cougars beat Arizona in an exhibition match last week in the first match against a Pac-12 team this year.

“You gotta play the best to be the best,” Rockwood said of the schedule. “It’s great preparation for us.”

After all, the Pac-12 schools are the teams that BYU will face in the NCAA tournament in November.

In the meantime, the soccer team is at Hawaii playing California and Stanford this week. The first game at South Field will be against Colorado at 7 p.m. on Aug. 28.

“The girls are anxious to get back out there and prove themselves,” Rockwood said.

 

Players to watch:

Ashley Hatch: She’s considered one of the top forwards in the country. The junior forward was named to the MAC Hermann Trophy watch list earlier this month.

Michelle Murphy Vasconcelos: As one of the top three point-getters last season, the junior is playing well this spring and is expected to open more scoring options.

Elena Medeiros: The third of the scoring trifecta returning from last season. The junior had a great season last year and according to Rockwood, she had an even better spring. “She’s going to be very dangerous,” Rockwood said.

Bizzy Phillips: She had a great freshman year and will be an important player in the midfield this year.

Paige Hunt: The junior midfielder just returned from serving a mission for the LDS church. She said she’s looking forward to getting the ball at her feet and being competitive again.

Taylor Campbell Isom: Rockwood said the sophomore defender will be the “key to organizing our defense.”

 

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