The Wolverines have dominated the Great West with Achilles-like perfection.
Houston Baptist proved to be their heel.
A week after UVU’s perfect intra-conference record ended with a regular-season ending loss to Houston Baptist, the Wolverines fell to the Huskies again in a double-overtime thriller in the GWC Tournament semifinals on Nov. 6.
Houston Baptist punched in the deciding goal at the 105th minute, denying UVU a chance at advancing via shootout.
“Losing a game that way, they call it sudden death,” UVU head coach Brent Anderson said. “And really, it is quite shocking for a team that loses in those circumstances. It’s unlike any other game. When that ball goes in the net, game over. You don’t get another chance.”
The feeling of no tomorrow sunk in especially hard on a squad featuring nine seniors – all of whom were hoping to witness a repeat instead of defeat.
“To lose a game like that definitely took its emotional toll on the players,” Anderson said. “For the seniors, it’s a reality check for everyone. Life begins. Collegiate soccer, collegiate sports, is that last thing you hang on to from your youth.”
That doesn’t mean Anderson or his players won’t hang on. The five-year coach shares a unique bond with each of his seniors and places more value on that than their results.
“People talk to me a lot about the team and the sport, the techniques and the tactics,” Anderson said. “I love the game, I love coaching soccer, but the most rewarding part of soccer is the relationship we have as a team. We rely on each other, we confide in each other; there’s nothing else like it.”
Despite what seems a mass exodus of veterans, the Wolverines will boast plenty of developed talent next season, not including whatever new recruits Anderson musters in the off-season.
Freshman standout Lauren Sack will be back to guard the net, and upcoming seniors Camille Broderick, Ashley Burdett, Brianne Larsen, Kaitlyn Thomas and Jaime Lyons will all return to balance the field for their final season.
“We’ve got some great players coming up with good leadership potential,” Anderson said.
At the very least, that should translate to another year of conference contention.