Photo by Mykah Heaton
Before the beginning of the season, newly arrived UVU head coach Chris Lemay said he wanted to play against the best competition to push his squad and improve every match. Out of the team’s 13 nonconference matches, 10 were played away from Clyde Field. This included travel to Hawaii, Oklahoma, North Dakota and Texas. The team faced top programs including Washington State, BYU and Texas A&M. Looking back on the nonconference schedule, Lemay believes the schedule has helped his squad be better prepared for WAC play.
“BYU and Texas A&M are probably two of the most historic places to play in women’s college soccer,” Lemay said. “The reason we wanted to play these types of games was to get us battle ready for conference.”
There have been some difficult results to stomach since the season kicked off. Four defeats in overtime is at the top of that list. Other tough defeats include falling to Tulsa and North Dakota State despite outshooting said opponents 15-7 and 27-12. UVU did not manage to score in either contest. Despite the early-season setbacks, Lemay remains optimistic.
“I told the girls the first time I ever met them that I wasn’t going to just judge them based on the score line,” Lemay said. “I was going to judge them based on, did they put the right effort in and did they try to execute the game plan.”
There are multiple reasons the team is heading into conference play with a losing record at 4-9-0, but one stat that stands out is the shot-to-goal ratio the team has. The Wolverines boast an impressive average of nearly 14 shots per match, which is fourth among WAC teams, but only scores one goal per match. This means the team has a goal-to-shot ratio of only 7 percent. UVU also currently sits atop the WAC in corner kicks earned each match, at nearly seven per game. The chances are there, but the final product has been lacking.
“Our conversion rate has got to be better,” Lemay said. “We have to finish more.”
Another concerning note is that defensively, the team has only been able to earn one shutout over the course of the season, in a nonconference WAC preview 3-0 victory over Seattle. UVU is also in the bottom half among WAC teams in goals conceded each match.
Looking at the records of the teams in the WAC, it appears the entire conference has had its share of struggles during nonconference play. Only New Mexico State and UT Rio Grande Valley are at or above .500 with records of 6-6-1 and 5-5-2 respectively. Much of the conference is coming off lengthy losing streaks, with Cal State Bakersfield, Grand Canyon and Chicago State having losing streaks of at least four games. Preseason predictions had Seattle as the favorite in the WAC, followed by UMKC, GCU and then UVU. All of these teams have losing records in nonconference play, meaning any team could have a shot at this year’s conference championship.
Regardless of the statistics so far, Lemay remains optimistic and said the next part of the season starts once WAC play begins. The team will look for better results starting against UMKC on Oct. 6.