Men’s soccer earns school’s first ever national ranking

Wolverines ranked 25th in recent poll

Kyle McDonald | Sports Editor | @kylesportsbias

Photos courtesy of James Durrant

For the first time ever at Utah Valley University, a team sport has cracked the national polls.  The UVU men’s soccer team is ranked 25th in the most recent NSCAA Coaches Poll.  It is the highest that a UVU team sport has ever been ranked as the 2012 Wolverine baseball team was ranked 27th during their 32-game win streak.

The UVU men's soccer team huddles up after their 3-0 win over UMKC on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015
The UVU men’s soccer team huddles up after their 3-0 win over UMKC on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015

“I am very proud of our players and staff,” UVU head coach Greg Maas said. “To garner a Top 25 ranking in just our second-year is a credit to the hard work our entire program has put forth.”

The Wolverines have started the season with a 7-2 record with their only losses coming against Mercer and at then 15th-ranked Denver in overtime.  Denver is currently ranked 7th in the NSCAA Coaches Poll.

Utah Valley is also ranked No. 2 in the NSCAA West Region and has an RPI rating of 26.  It is the highest RPI rating for any UVU team since becoming an NCAA Division I institution in 2003-04.

In the preseason Western Athletic Conference polls, the Wolverines were picked to finish fourth.  Now they are the only team in the WAC that is nationally ranked.  They are one of two teams that have received votes in the national polls as UNLV received three.  Those two teams will meet on October 25 in Las Vegas.

UVU midfielder Connor Salmon and UMKC midfielder Felipe Cepeda get tangled up trying to gain control of the ball
UVU midfielder Connor Salmon and UMKC midfielder Felipe Cepeda get tangled up trying to gain control of the ball

After going 9-7-2 during their inaugural season in 2014, UVU returned 20 letter winners. They also brought in top recruit Aaron Meyer to stabilize the midfield and add to a lineup, which features All-WAC defender Alex Neff and NSCAA West All-Region third team member Karson Payton.

“The historic implications for our program and university is truly special,” Maas said. “And I am confident it will allow us to continue to matriculate top-level athletes here at UVU.”

UVU is lead by its defense as they are only giving up 0.68 goals per game.  The combination of Neff and goalkeeper Collin Partee has helped the Wolverines to their fast start. Meyer is tied with Payton and sophomore Austin Buxton for the team lead in goals at three. Paul Hoffmeister comes in right behind with two.

UVU begins WAC play this month with a target now on their backs. It is a task that Maas believes his players are up to and ready for.

UVU midfielder Aaron Meyer centers the ball
UVU midfielder Aaron Meyer centers the ball

“There is no question the Top 25 ranking creates a target on our back,” Maas said. “But that said, I am confident our players will stay humble, focused, and treat the recognition with the respect it deserves.”

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