The Wolverines wrapped up non-conference play Sunday after a two game road trip to Oklahoma and Alabama. Utah Valley lost both games to close out a tough start to their schedule. The team now sits at 5-4 overall with two losses coming in double overtime games.
“The non-conference portion of the season was designed to be difficult to challenge us and prepare us for the conference slate,” said UVU head coach Chris Lemay. “We played four Power 5 teams and NAU, who was picked to win the Big Sky conference, and we played Boise State who was picked to win the Mountain West conference, so we didn’t have an easy game. To come out 5-4 is less desirable than we wanted but I think we achieved what we set out to achieve by scheduling the way we did.”
UVU has been a tough team to beat at home this season with a record of 3-1 at Clyde Field in Orem. Their lone loss at home this season came against the No. 25 USC Trojans 4-2 on Aug. 28.
In order for UVU to repeat as WAC champions this season, they will need to improve their play on the road. In their quest for the title last season the Wolverines garnered an outstanding road-record of 7-3-1. They have already matched the amount of losses they suffered on the road last season early in this year’s slate of games.
The Wolverines have been a shade of another team on the road, posting a record of 1-3 so far this season. UVU has been outscored 10-8 in that same stretch and has been the recipient of multiple close losses including one double-overtime thriller against in-state rival Utah State.
“Utah State is having a historical start to their season,” Lemay said. “They just got done beating BYU last weekend as well, with that being said, we feel like that’s the game that got away from us and that’s a game that we should have won.”
The defending WAC regular season and tournament champion, UVU was picked as the preseason favorite in the west division and conference newcomer Stephen F. Austin topped the southwest division.
This season, the schedule does not allow for any division crossover games, so teams will play each team from their respective division twice, once at home and once on the road. This also means that the Wolverines won’t see SFA or Abilene Christian until the WAC tournament kicks off in Abilene, Texas in November. Being able to possibly avoid one of the two top teams from the southwest division could bode well for UVU and help them reach another conference title.
“All of the teams in our division are having good seasons. Everyone is going to present different challenges to us,” Lemay said. “For us, I know that if we show up and play to our ability, we can beat any of them and I know that every [team] is good enough that if we don’t show up and play the best UVU soccer we can, then we will be on the wrong side of the scoreboard against any team that we face from here on out.”
The Wolverines kick off conference play with a three-game home stand against Grand Canyon, New Mexico State and Dixie State before they hit the road for three games at Cal Baptist, Seattle U and DSU. UVU will then finish off their conference schedule with two games at home against Seattle U and CBU, and two games on the road at NMSU and GCU.
Brice Larson is currently a Junior at UVU majoring in communications with an emphasis in journalism and media studies. He enjoys everything about sports and one day hopes to become a college football analyst and play by play commentator.