Photo by Nathan Gross
With huge expectations early in the season, the Utah Valley University women’s soccer team was selected as co-favorites, alongside Seattle University, to win the 2016 Western Athletic Conference title. Senior defender Kalli Suesue was tabbed WAC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, and senior midfielder Taylor Kirk was named to the Preseason All-WAC team along with Suesue. At season’s end, Suesue proved to live up to expectations when she and freshman midfielder Breanna DeWaal received first team All-WAC honors. Senior defender Abby Jameson received All-WAC second team honors.
This season was far from a successful one, ending with an overall record of 10-8-2. UVU played well at times and showed flashes of greatness against tough opponents during the season such as UNLV, Oklahoma and Utah.
“We have some definite highlights of the season,” said head coach Brent Anderson. “I think the girls can be really proud of that. But at the end of the day we wanted a little bit more.”
UVU started the season with a statement 4-1 win against Northern Arizona. This is the way UVU wanted to play all season long. For a while it seemed like it was destined to repeat last season’s glory. However, UVU fell apart during WAC play, with a conference record of 3-3-1.
UVU’s toughest opponent this season was SU, the same team that handed it two losses during the regular season, including an Oct. 1 shutout in Seattle, Washington. SU then handed UVU a decisive 3-1 loss at home Oct. 28. Its final loss came, once again, at the feet of SU in the WAC tournament Nov. 4 with a final score of 2-1.
Anderson believes that the season wasn’t a complete failure, but compared to the 2015 season, this was not the outcome the team was looking for.
“It’s good to be above .500, but based on results of last year, I think everybody’s feeling that we didn’t achieve as much as we wanted to,” said Anderson. “The season ended a bit earlier than we wanted to as well.”
UVU ended the season by outscoring opponents 34 to 24 and totaled 69 saves on the season, compared to opponents’ 96. These numbers make for a good season on paper. UVU showed exactly what it was capable of with stats, but the numbers didn’t translate into wins.
“We feel that we could have gone further than we did,” said Anderson. “Maybe a lack of chemistry in some positions on the field, we just didn’t quite perform to the best of our abilities, or up to what we wanted to this year.”
Anderson will look to his core players returning next year, such as DeWaal, freshman goalkeeper Brooklyn Nielsen, junior midfielder Libby Weber and freshman defender Hannah Bruce to name a few. With a new recruiting class underway, he believes they will add the needed spark the team needs to get back to tournament form.
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