The BYU women’s soccer team won the WCC season title for the fourth year in a row and will host UVU in the first round of the NCAA tournament this Saturday.
The Cougars closed out season play in the WCC Saturday night with a win against Saint Mary’s, a season record of 7-1-1 and an overall record of 15-2-2. The Saturday night win put them in a good position to take home a piece of the WCC season title, but it was a San Francisco loss to Portland, 1-0, that secured the title for BYU for the fourth year in a row. BYU has only been in the WCC for five years. The only other time BYU has won four consecutive season titles was from 1999-2002 when it was in the MWC.
“To win four conference championships is something that doesn’t happen very often in any conference and in any sport, so the fact that the girls were able to compete at this level consistently for the last four years is truly remarkable. So yeah, we were excited,” head coach Jennifer Rockwood said.
Winning the conference gave BYU an automatic berth into the NCAA tournament, but the Cougars still gathered Monday afternoon with bated breath to see who they would play in the first round of the tournament. Unsurprisingly, it was announced that the Cougars would host the first round game, but it was a shock to learn who their opponent is going to be: the Utah Valley University Wolverines.
The Wolverines had their best season yet and made the tournament for the first time in school history. They will travel the short distance to South Field to play BYU in their first ever NCAA tournament game.
“I am very very pleased,” junior defender Paige Hunt said. “To play at home the first round is a huge advantage and we are competing against UVU and we haven’t played them yet this season, but they are not to be overlooked. They were good enough to make it into the NCAA tournament, so you can’t underestimate them. They’re going to give us the best game that they can and we are going to give it right back to them.”
The biggest surprise of the selection show was that BYU, who is ranked No. 13 in the nation, did not get seeded while Santa Clara, a team that is not nationally ranked and has a season record of 6-1-2 received a number four seed. Santa Clara will play Long Beach State in round one of the tournament. The only other WCC team to make the tournament was Loyola Marymount and they will play their first game against the University of California this weekend.
BYU will most likely match up against number one seed Stanford in the second round if the Cougars beat UVU. BYU played Stanford during pre-season play and it was one of two losses for the Cougars this year. Everyone is looking forward to the rematch that will hopefully some redemption against Stanford in the second round of the tournament.
“So excited to play Stanford,” keeper Rachel Boaz said. “I think that we came off timid the first half and then we played our game the second half. We are fully capable of beating them. I am excited to get some retaliation always since that was our first loss of the year.”
The Cougars are fired up and are ready for the tournament. A few things to look forward to going into Saturday’s game: Ashley Hatch is back and will find her place again on the field with the team while Rachel Boaz will defend the BYU goal the second-best save percentage in the nation. BYU has not lost a game at home all season and has hosted five of the 11 largest crowds at home averaging a record 3,500 fans per game.
The BYU women’s soccer team play in their first NCAA tournament game against UVU on Saturday, Nov. 14 at 1 p.m. at South Field.