The Weber State University women’s soccer team will make its third appearance in the NCAA Women’s College Cup, and will do it against a familiar foe.
WSU will face in-state rival Brigham Young University at 5 p.m. on Friday at South Field in Provo. The match will be televised live on BYUtv.
The Wildcats (10-4-5) will take on the Cougars (14-4-1) for the 17th time, with BYU holding a 15-0-1 advantage in the all-time series.
“I think BYU is a good first-round opponent for us,” said WSU senior Sarah Thurston last week. “Playing in Provo against BYU is something we’ve done before, so it’s familiar to us. We can focus on what we know how to do without all the nerves, and we will have a lot of fans there to cheer us on.”
WSU is 0-2-1 in three previous NCAA Women’s College Cup matches, advancing to the second round of the tournament in 2005 after upsetting the Cougars in a penalty kick shootout at the Ute Field in Salt Lake City.
That match ended 1-1 after BYU rallied from a 1-0 deficit to force overtime, and things eventually went to penalty kicks, when WSU goalkeeper Kandice Golar blocked two shots and Rochelle Hoover converted the winning kick, sending the Wildcats on to a second-round match-up, where they lost to the University of Arizona.
“The players are excited for our game Friday,” said WSU head coach Tim Crompton. “Our players have a great sense of who they are, why they are here and what needs to be done to advance in the tournament. It didn’t matter who we drew or where we ended up; we are just going to lace them up and put it on the line.”
WSU enters the tournament having shut out its last three opponents. The Wildcats have allowed just 18 goals this season, which is currently tied as the second fewest allowed in a season by the Wildcats.
Senior goalkeeper Ryann Waldman was named the Most Valuable Player of the Big Sky Conference tournament after posting two shutouts in goals and blocking two of Portland State University’s three penalty kick attempts.
“We have worked very hard to put ourselves in this position,” said sophomore Chansi Crompton. “We are all really excited to move forward and continue our journey in the NCAA tournament.”
Chansi Crompton finished the 2013 regular season as the Big Sky Conference’s assist leader, both in overall matches and conference-only matches, with eight and five respectively. It’s the second consecutive season that she has led the league in assists.
Sophomore Mackenzie Harrison was named the Big Sky Conference’s Offensive MVP this season after leading the league in goals scored. Harrison’s nine goals is currently tied for the fifth most in school history in a single season. She needs just one more to become the first player since 2005 to reach double-digit goals in a season.
Sophomore Brecken Holbrook was also named First-Team All-Big Sky for the second consecutive year after helping anchor the Wildcats’ defense.
“I’m excited to play in the NCAA tournament,” Thurston said. “It’s always been a goal of ours, and now we’re finally here. There’s no other team I’d rather be here with. We deserve it. We can’t wait to accomplish all the goals we’ve set for ourselves.”
BYU comes into the tournament having won seven games straight. The Cougars are West Coast Conference tri-champions. They are led offensively by Ashley Hatch, who has six goals and seven assists for 19 points, and Cloee Colohan, who has six goals and four assists for 16 points.
“It will be a great atmosphere to compete in for the program,” Coach Crompton said. “We have had such tremendous support from our fans and administration all season; no question we will have that same support in attendance on Friday, and that is extremely important to our players and coaching staff.”
If the Wildcats pull out a victory, they will advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament on Nov. 22.