Cross-country, Soccer teams highlight a tremendous fall season
For Utah Valley University athletics, it might have been the greatest three months in school history to start the 2015-16 school year. In just its second season of competing at the NCAA Division I level, the men’s soccer team earned a top-25 national ranking and were about two minutes away from winning the Western Athletic Conference tournament and the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. They fell in penalty kicks to Seattle University but were rewarded for their quality of play with an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. Although they lost to Southern Methodist University by a score of 2-0, they far exceeded the preseason fourth place pick that WAC coaches gave them. They also return everyone in 2016 as Tyler Brown is the only senior on the 2015 squad.
The women’s soccer team started out a little rough by losing 6-0 to San Diego State but turned it around by going undefeated at home en route to the No. 2 seed in the WAC tournament. They got some revenge on Seattle University in the WAC tournament championship game and earned their first-ever NCAA tournament bid. They lost to cross-county foe BYU in the first round to end their historic run. Jessica Duffin was named the WAC Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight year and head coach Brent Anderson was named WAC Coach of the Year. Anderson also picked up his 100th win in the WAC Championship.
Jason Lynch and the Utah Valley men’s cross country team earned their third straight WAC title. Lynch also won the individual championship. Their season ended in the NCAA Mountain Regional, where they fell just a bit short of their goal to get to Nationals. Head coach Scott Houle won WAC Coach of the Year honors for the third straight year.
Sam Heaton won the individual WAC title for the UVU women’s cross country team and helped the women win their first-ever WAC championship. She also placed 40th overall at the NCAA Mountain Regional and helped UVU finish 14th at their final meet of the season.
After losing to 9th-ranked BYU in straight sets on September 19, the UVU volleyball team won nine out of its next 11 matches to help them earn the No. 3 seed in the WAC volleyball tournament. Lauren Bakker also became the first Wolverine spiker to have 1,000 kills and 500 blocks in a career. Their season came to an abrupt end, but with WAC Freshman of the Year Abby Jensen back in 2016, the Wolverines will look to improve on a successful 2015.
Three WAC team championships, two individual championships, two WAC Freshman of the Year awards, Defensive Player of the Year, two WAC Coach of the Year awards, two WAC Athlete of the Year awards, 20 athletes named to the All-WAC teams and two NCAA tournament appearances make for a pretty good fall season for UVU athletics.
Photos courtesy of Preston Yardley, Brooke Morrill, & UVU Athletics
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