BYU fall sports are taking advantage of the home-field and home-court this year. BYU football, women’s soccer and women’s volleyball are all undefeated at home this season.
BYU football has an overall record of 7-3 and a home game record of 5-0, while women’s soccer has an overall record of 16-2-2 and a home record of 11-0. Women’s volleyball has a record of 23-3 and a home record of 9-0. Coaches and players alike attribute this home-game shutout streak to the amazing fan presence at the games and the teams’ abilities to stay in their comfortable routine.
“We have a really good fan base,” said women’s soccer player Paige Hunt. “It’s very different when you play at home. You feel more comfortable, you’re calm and then again to have our fans by our side. It makes a big difference for sure.”
An amazing ROC student section fires up the football team well before game day arrives. Fans line the stadium walls and camp out for days before a home game. The presence of the ROC on the southeast end of the stadium is energizing and LaVell Edwards Stadium has been consistently ranked in the top 25 in the nation for attendance records.
“I’m really impressed with our student section,” football head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “They’ve been the best since I have been the coach at BYU, camping out before games, running into the stadium like the Running of the Bulls, just charging to get their seats. It’s adding a nice element to our home game atmosphere.”
One of the goals of the football team this year was to go undefeated at home and it has almost achieved it. The team plays its last home game on Saturday, Nov. 21 at 1 p.m. at LaVell Edwards Stadium against Fresno State. The last time BYU played Fresno State was in 1998, and Fresno State left Provo with the win. A Senior Day victory will clinch an undefeated season at home for BYU football.
“We take major pride in (being undefeated at home), it’s something we talk about all the time,” said linebacker coach Kelly Poppinga. “I think our guys take a lot of pride in playing in that stadium, it’s just a special place to play. We make sure they understand the things that have been done there before them and to respect that and to continue on that tradition of playing well at home.”
BYU women’s soccer is on the longest home game win streak in the nation with 18 games. The last time they didn’t win was a tie against Santa Clara in 2012. The soccer team has an average of over 3,500 fans per game and has been consistently rated top 10 in attendance in the NCAA. South Field has hosted two of the top 15 attended matches in NCAA history this year.
South Field has ROC accommodations on the east and west ends of the south side stands and behind both goal boxes, where students’ favorite task is to distract the opposing goalie. BYU had a 10-game shutout streak before letting Saint Mary’s score the first and only opposing goal at home this season.
“We’re always glad to play at home,” women’s soccer head coach Jennifer Rockwood said. “They want to represent and play hard in front of the fans. We really appreciate all of the fans that come out and support our team. The crowd gives our girls a lot of energy.”
The No. 13 women’s soccer team won the WCC regular season title and will play round two of the NCAA tournament today at 8 p.m. at Stanford.
The women’s volleyball team is on a 21-game home win streak and are 47-1 at home since November 2011. The Cougars have played nine matches at home this year in front of sold-out crowds in the Smith Fieldhouse.
The football team and the women’s soccer team both set specific goals to go undefeated at home this year, but the women’s volleyball always strives to simply be the best it can be. Women’s volleyball head coach Heather Olmstead said if that means going undefeated at home, then they will take it.
The No. 17 BYU women’s volleyball team already secured the WCC season title and still has three home matches left to finish regular season play. They will play against Santa Clara on Thursday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m., San Francisco Saturday, Nov. 21 at 12 p.m. and Pepperdine next Tuesday, Nov. 24 at 7 p.m. BYU lost to Santa Clara on the road earlier this season in one of two losses for the entire year, but beat both San Francisco and Pepperdine. They need to win all three matches to go 12-0 and remain undefeated at home.
“I think it’s a tribute to BYU athletics and the way they protect their home-field or home-court advantage,” Olmstead said. “We are just trying to get better and trying to get wins and so I think it says a lot about BYU and the way that the kids prepare for the home games.”
The home-field or home-court advantage lies in familiarity and community support. The safeness of a set routine, a well-known field or court and relentless cheers of supportive fans have given all three regular fall sports the energy to come out on top in every home game this season.