PROVO, Utah – The Wildcats will make their third appearance in the NCAA Women’s College Cup on Friday evening, and will do it against a familiar foe.
The Weber State University women’s soccer team faces in-state rival Brigham Young at 5 p.m. on Friday at South Field. The match will be televised on BYUtv.
The Wildcats (10-4-5) will be taking 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,” senior forward Sarah Thurston said. “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.”
Weber State 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 Ute Field in Salt Lake City. That matched ended 1-1 after BYU rallied from a 1-0 deficit to force overtime and things eventually went to penalty kicks, where Weber State goalkeeper Kandice Golar blocked two shots and Rochelle Hoover converted the winning kick, sending the Wildcats on to a second-round matchup against Arizona. WSU fell 1-0 to Arizona in that match, despite playing the final 40 minutes with man-advantage after an UA player was sent off.
In Weber State’s first-ever NCAA College Cup appearance against Portland in 2004, the Wildcats fell 3-0 to the Pilots, who were ranked fourth in the country prior to that NCAA tournament.
“The players are excited for our game Friday,” Weber State coach Tim Crompton said. “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 player, we are just going to lace them up and put it on the line.”
Weber State enters the tournament on five-match unbeaten streak (3-0-2) and has shut out its last three opponents. The Wildcat currently have a 378-minute shutout streak, dating back to the second minute of a 1-1 road draw with Northern Colorado on Oct. 25 in Greeley, Colo.
Weber State has allowed just 18 goals this season entering the NCAA tournament, which is currently tied as the second-fewest allowed in a season by the Wildcats. The Wildcats’ current 0.89 Goals Against-Average ranks second in school history.
“We have worked very hard to put ourselves in this position,” sophomore central midfielder Chansi Crompton said. “We are all really excited to move forward and continue our journey in the NCAA tournament.”
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 the sophomore central midfielder has led the league in assists. Her 14 career assists ranks seventh all time in Weber State history. Her next assist will move her into a then five-way tie for third. Crompton is a two-time First Team All-Big Sky Conference selection.
Sophomore forward Mackenzie Harrison was named as the Big Sky Conference’s Offensive Most Valuable Player this season after leading the league in goals scored in both overall matches and conference-only matches with nine and six, respectively. 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 central defender Brecken Holbrook was also named First Team All-Big Sky for the second consecutive year after helping anchor the Wildcats’ defense, which allowed just 18 goals and posted a 0.89 GA-A in 19 matches this year.
Senior goalkeeper Ryann Waldman, who was named the Most Valuable Player of the Big Sky Conference tournament after posting two shutouts in goal and blocking two of Portland State’s three penalty kick attempts. Waldman’s 0.88 GA-A this season is the third-lowest in school history, and puts the senior on the brink of becoming the first player in Weber State history to post two seasons with a GA-A under 1.00. Her career GA-A is 1.15, which is the best in school history.
“I’m excited to play in the NCAA tournament. It’s always been a goal of ours and now we’re finally here,” Thurston said. “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 straight games dating back to a 2-1 loss at Santa Clara. The Cougars are West Coast Conference tri-champions, sharing the league title with the Broncos and Portland, and are coming off a 6-1 victory over Saint Mary’s, Calif., last Saturday in their last outing.
The Cougars are currently ranked second in the country in attendance, averaging 2,876 fans per match across 11 home dates this season.
BYU is 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,” Tim 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.”