BYU's women’s soccer team is looking to work its way back into the Top 10 this week as they host Air Force on a homecoming Saturday.
The 11th-ranked Cougars are 10-1-1 on the season and 1-0 in Mountain West Conference play, with wins over two ranked opponents.
BYU is led by junior forward Jennie Marshall with seven goals on the season, while senior forward/midfielder Kassidy Shumway leads the team with 15 points on five goals and five assists.
A victory over the Falcons (7-5-1) could push them back into the Top 10 for the second time this season. The Cougars were ranked eighth in the nation before a 1-0 loss at then 20th-ranked Texas on September 20th.
Since then, BYU has reeled off three straight victories over Idaho State, Utah State, and Wyoming, outscoring those opponents 11-1 in the process.
The Cougars are shooting for their third-straight MWC regular-season title before heading off to the very competitive West Coast Conference next season. BYU is also looking to secure another berth to the NCAA tournament.
Under head coach Jennifer Rockwood, the Cougars have made the NCAA tourney 12 of the last 13 years.
Rockwood is the only head coach in the 16-year history of the the BYU program. She has built BYU women’s soccer from the ground up, beginning in 1995 and finding success early and often.
Since 1997, BYU has been a fixture in the NCAA tournament and is looking for its seventh MWC title in 12 years. Jennifer says that the key to the success of women’s soccer at BYU is the type of athletes she has been able to recruit to Provo.
“We have great kids," says Rockwood. “They are here for all the right reasons. They’re not here just for soccer, they are here to get a BYU experience. It’s important to them to succeed in the classroom and the be in the environment that they have an opportunity to be a part of here.”
Rockwood talks about program’s ability to draw in local talent. BYU has also benefited from the strong club and high school soccer programs in the state of Utah.
Against Air Force the Cougars face a team that hasn’t won a conference game since 2004, and a program that has beaten BYU just once in school history. Rockwood, though, says that her team will not overlook the Falcons.
“We just told the girls that every game we play is for a conference championship,” explains Rockwood. “Over the years, our conference has been decided by one game or a tie, so it’s always close.
“Air Force is always a great competitor and you can’t over look anyone in our conference. They played Utah to a 1-0 game [last time out], most of their games are close. We know they have a great work ethic and they battle hard, so we have to be at our best—and like I said, we play every game like it’s for a conference championship, so that provides the incentive to be at our very best.”
The Cougars and Falcons kick it off Saturday night at 8pm at South Stadium, shortly following the conclusion of the football game against San Diego State. BYU will be looking to extend its home winning streak to 15 games.