Women’s soccer looks to build upon last year’s success heading into the 2021 season

UVU women's soccer chanting and cheering before the start of a road match. (Photo courtesy of Rey Del Rio)

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Coming off the program’s most successful season in its history, the Utah Valley women’s soccer team is looking to build off of last season’s historic accomplishments and return to the NCAA tournament. 

After the pandemic pushed the fall 2020 season to the spring, the Wolverines won both the WAC regular season and tournament titles. The Wolverines also became the first team in UVU history to win an NCAA tournament game, defeating No. 25 Memphis 1-0 in the first round. 

With the addition of newcomers Abilene Christian, Lamar, Sam Houston State and Stephen F. Austin, the WAC has split the conference into two divisions– the West and Southwest– with the top three teams from each division making the conference tournament. The Wolverines were picked to finish first in the WAC West division in the preseason coach’s poll, ahead of Seattle U, with whom UVU shared the 2021 spring title. Stephen F. Austin was picked to win the Southwest division.

Returning Players

Following the 2020-2021 season, the Wolverines are returning 10 out of 11 starters, with the only newcomer in the starting lineup being redshirt senior goalkeeper Brooklyn Nielsen, who replaces former keeper Isabel Jones-Dawe between the posts. The Wolverines had four players selected to the preseason All-WAC team– double the amount of any other team in the WAC. Forward Sadie Brockbank, midfielders Heather Stainbrook and Amber Tripp and defender Jenna Shepherd were all named to the preseason all-conference team. Shepherd was also dubbed the preseason defensive player of the year. 

Brockbank and Stainbrook were the leading scorers last season for the Wolverines, scoring seven and five goals respectively. Tripp led both the team and the conference in assists, dishing out seven. Shepherd was named the WAC defensive player of the year last season and was also named to TopDrawerSoccer.com’s postseason top-100 list, which highlights the top 100 players in collegiate soccer. 

The Schedule

Wolverine Head Coach Chris Lemay loves testing his teams in non-conference play, and 2021 is no exception. The 2021 slate includes four games against power 5 opponents in Arizona, USC, Oklahoma, and Alabama.

“We are looking forward to a challenging fall schedule that includes some perennial power houses,” said Lemay. “True to our past scheduling tactics, we will be playing a very difficult non-conference slate by design. We are prideful that our program has been the top RPI team in the WAC over the past two seasons, and if we can get some results, the schedule created will allow for us to be in a good position to retain that title.”

The 2021 schedule also features matchups against a trio of Mountain West Conference opponents in San Jose State, Boise State and Utah State. The Wolverines open conference play on Sept. 23 against Grand Canyon. The Old Hammer Rivalry will be renewed Oct. 2 when Dixie State travels to Clyde Field. The Wolverines will close out the regular season against GCU on Oct. 30 with the conference tournament scheduled to start Nov. 3 in Abilene, Texas.

Coming off a historic 2021 spring season, expectations are sure to be high in the Wolverines’ locker room. The fall season presents new challenges including new opponents and road venues with opposing fans. However, after a dominating 2-0 season-opening victory over Arizona, it seems like the stars may be aligning for another special season down at Clyde Field.

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