BYU women’s soccer team prepares for paramount season

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BYU head coach Jennifer Rockwood will lead the Cougars into a difficult 2016 season. (Jaren Wilkey)
BYU head coach Jennifer Rockwood will lead the Cougars into a difficult 2016 season. (Jaren Wilkey)

Expectations are high as the BYU women’s soccer team gears up for what might be its best season yet.

“It is always very exciting this time of year getting ready for a new season, especially this year coming off such a great year last year,” coach Jennifer Rockwood said. “Just knowing how hard they’ve worked, especially these last two months, they’re just ready to go.”

This season’s team brings back 18 of last year’s 21 players, including several seniors and juniors. Goal keeper Rachel Boaz said this added experience will be a great advantage to the team this season.

“I think it’s the best situation this program has ever had,” Boaz said. “All the way around, there is a lot more confidence, maturity and leadership on the team.”

Rockwood said this year’s team has “by far” the most speed the program has ever had. She said the team’s attack will also be one of its strengths this season, with returning All-American player Ashley Hatch.

“Now that we can add her into the system and get her playing in that creative, free-flowing attack that we were able to do last year, I think everybody’s going to be better,” Rockwood said.

Hatch said it feels good to be back on the field practicing full force with the team. She is looking forward to the season to come.

“I’m excited and anxious to get out on the field again and improve and learn with each game,” Hatch said. “It’ll be fun, and we’re excited to do our best.”

The team is scheduled to play four opponents in the top 25 this season. Boaz said the team is working hard to ensure that they are ready for these important games.

“We need to prepare right now every minute that we are in practice,” Boaz said. “We need make sure that we’re in the moment so that everything is sharp for those games … and that we have all the tools and all the cards in play to be our best when that time comes.”

The team has plans to practice twice per day both this and next week to prepare for the important season to come.

“Playing the best competitors will only make us the best team that we can be,” Boaz said. “This year has the potential for the program’s best year, so we’re very excited.”

The women’s soccer team recently ranked 16th in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) first coaches poll. Rockwood said she thinks this is a great place for the team to start this year.

“With everybody returning, I think that’s where we should be, so I’m certainly honored to be around those teams around that area,” Rockwood said. “Now we just have to prove ourselves.”

The team is currently preparing for its Blue and White game on Saturday, Aug. 6 at 7 p.m. The team will then get ready for its Alumni Game on Aug. 9, UCLA exhibition on Aug. 13 and Washington State game on Aug. 19.

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