Photo by Jesse Sanchez
Usually when a team wins 15 out of 19 games, is ranked in the top 25 the majority of the season, has 10 shutouts and won the conference regular season championship, there is good reason to expect that team would receive an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament.
Unfortunately for the UVU men’s soccer team, that is not how the NCAA selection committee saw it. The Wolverines were left out of the field and left wondering what more they could have done.
Did the committee take into account that UVU defeated four teams in the College Cup? One of those teams was Washington, which received a national seed and a first-round bye. UVU knocked off the Huskies 2-1 Aug. 26 in the season opener for both teams. Here is the kicker, UVU won the match while playing a man down. The Huskies were ranked in the top 20 at the time. The Wolverines also defeated another top-20 opponent when they beat Gonzaga Sept. 15.
The two wins over top-20 opponents should have made a difference, especially because Pacific University received an at-large berth and faced only one top-20 opponent. The Tigers won at No. 11 San Diego State back in September.
However, that is where the comparisons end. Looking at the schedules of UVU and Pacific, there were seven common opponents: UC Davis, Sacramento State, CSU Bakersfield, UNLV, San Jose State, Grand Canyon and Gonzaga. UVU went 6-2 against those opponents while Pacific went 4-3 against those same opponents. The Wolverines had one more match because they faced UNLV twice during the season.
UVU also played three more games and won three more than Pacific. The Tigers finished with a 12-3-2 record and didn’t win the conference regular season title. UVU, on the other hand, finished 15-4-1 and won the WAC regular season crown.
Pacific isn’t the only questionable team that was chosen above the Wolverines. The Providence Friars received an at-large berth even though they were just 13-6 on the season and failed to win the Big East Conference regular season or tournament championships.
The last stat to point to regarding UVU’s snub is that of the Wolverines’ record in 2015. UVU was 14-6-2 and didn’t win the regular season or tournament title and yet, it still received an at-large berth. The Wolverines lost to Seattle University once during the regular season and then played the Redhawks to a draw in the WAC tournament championship game before falling in penalty kicks. Besides Seattle, the only other ranked opponent was 15th-ranked Denver, which beat UVU 2-1.
The 2016 version of the UVU men’s soccer team accomplished more than it has in program history and won its first-ever conference championship. The 15 wins were tied for third-most in the nation when the regular season ended. So, the question will always remain: why didn’t UVU receive an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament when all the numbers say it should have? It was quite the travesty that happened Monday, Nov. 14.
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.