Photo by Keely Damara
There is something happening on the campus of Utah Valley University and if you weren’t at Clyde Field on Friday night, Aug. 26, then you probably have no idea what I am talking about. I am about to tell you.
To put it plainly — the UVU men and women’s soccer teams are very good. How good you might ask? Well, look no further than what the women did over the course of the weekend.
The women swept a pair of matches over the weekend in shutout fashion. They beat in-state foe Southern Utah 2-0 in their home opener, then proceeded to beat Big 12 Conference opponent, Oklahoma 1-0 in Norman. It was the first loss for the Sooners at home in 11 matches. The Wolverines improved their record to 3-1-0 to start the season.
This past week, goalkeeper Brooklyn Nielsen picked up Western Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors for her effort in the shutout wins.
On the flip side, the men’s team pulled off one of the gutsiest wins in their short history with the 2-1 victory over Washington on Friday night. It was gutsy because the Wolverines played with only 10 men after Karson Payton was sent off in the 50th minute when he picked up his second yellow card. They held off an aggressive Washington attack late in the game that featured three shots on goal and three corner kicks in the final two minutes of the match.
Goalkeeper Elliott Rubio was named WAC Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts in the win while Paul Hoffmeister was named to the College Soccer News National Team of the Week after scoring both goals in the win.
The win over Washington caught the attention of the nation as the UVU men jumped from No. 24 to No 16 in the latest Top Drawer Soccer poll and from No. 28 to No. 21 in the College Soccer News top-30 poll.
It is way too early to speculate, but both squads have a bevy of experience returning and great leadership. Add to the fact that they have the experience of playing in the NCAA Tournament and expectations couldn’t be higher.
I will make one final statement to end this column. I am not the biggest soccer fan. Sure, I have played FIFA on my Xbox and it is enjoyable and I will watch the World Cup from time to time. I have just always been a baseball and football kind of guy.
However, by following these teams, speaking to coaches and players and writing stories on both teams, I have come to jump on the UVU soccer bandwagon that is rolling along right now and doesn’t show signs of stopping any time soon. Greg Maas and Brent Anderson are putting together programs that are equal to most, if not all, in the nation. And it is about time Wolverine nation and the rest of the nation take notice.
I am 32 years old, love the Chicago Cubs. A huge lego maniac and love to crochet team blankets (just ask, cool stuff)!! I have a passion for sports and a passion to write about them.