(Photo by BYU Design/Jeff Wood)
PROVO –With a year of experience in the West Coast Conference under their belts, BYU women’s soccer head coach Jennifer Rockwood and staff have announced yet another formidable season schedule, maybe their most competitive ever.
"We are really looking forward to the 2012 season and the opportunity to again prove ourselves as one of the top programs in the country,” Rockwood said, entering her 18th year as the BYU women's soccer head coach. “This schedule will provide a tremendous challenge for our program."
The 2012 schedule will feature nine teams that made an appearance in the 2011 NCAA Women’s College Cup, eight conference opponents, four teams that finished ranked in the nation’s Top 25, two teams that advanced to the Sweet Sixteen, and 11 chances for the huge South Stadium crowds see the team play at home.
The Cougars will play perhaps their toughest non-conference schedule this year. They start the year on the road with games at UC Irvine, Arizona and instate rival Utah. UCI returns Natalia Ledezma who led the team to the NCAA tournament with 12 goals in her sophomore year.
After a tough road trip, BYU hosts six-straight home games between August 30 and September 15. Long Beach State, Colorado College, Texas, Penn State, Cal Poly and Washington all travel to Provo for a chance to play on South Field.
The 49ers advanced to the Elite Eight in the 2011 NCAA tournament and will return star player Nadia Link to the lineup after scoring 16 goals and taking 78 shots in her junior year. Texas and Penn State were also involved in post-season play with the Longhorns playing in the first round and the Lions getting to the third.
To wrap up non-conference action, BYU will travel to Utah State and Oregon before returning home and hosting Utah Valley University.
“The team will look to be challenged from the very beginning of the season,” Rockwood said. “We are excited to have so many great teams on our schedule.”
The Cougars kick off WCC play at home with matchups against Santa Clara and San Francisco. The Broncos finished their 2011 season ranked No. 20 and earned a trip to the NCAA tournament.
From there, the Cougars will be doing some back-and-forth traveling. The team plays on the road against Portland on Oct. 13, at home against Gonzaga, on the road against San Diego on Oct. 25 and then back home to host Saint Mary’s on Oct. 27. Both the Pilots and Toreros advanced past the first round of the NCAA tournament last season.
“The WCC is extremely competitive," Rockwood said. "The players and coaches are all among the very best the NCAA has to offer, and we look forward to this great challenge."
To finish up the regular season, BYU travels to Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine. The Waves finished last season ranked No. 10 and participated in the NCAA tournament.
“We are anxious to get started and play this Fall," Rockwood said. "The team is hungry to prove its quality and show the fans what they're capable of. With the great schedule we have put together, we're going to find out just how good we really are, and that's an exciting challenge.”