COUGARS SET TO KICKOFF 2002 SEASON
Looking to win its fourth-straight MWC championship, BYU opens the 2002 season against the University of Portland in Provo at 7 p.m. KBYU and BYU-TV will broadcast the game live in the first of three television broadcasts of BYU soccer this season.
Last year, the Pilots defeated the Cougars 2-1, scoring the winning goal in the 77th minute while both teams were competing at the Nike Invitational in Seattle. This Friday's game marks the first time Portland will visit Provo to face the Cougars. BYU has a 0-2 all-time series record against Portland.
UNPRECEDENTED COVERAGE OF BYU SOCCER FOR 2002
In addition to airing BYU's game against Portland, KBYU is scheduled to broadcast the Cougars' matches against St. Mary's on Sept. 27 and San Diego State on Oct. 26. Soccer broadcaster Kim Free will call the action from South Field with former Cougar standout Natalyn Lewis providing game analysis.
In addition to KBYU's coverage, BYU-TV will also broadcast the same three BYU games on the Dish Network 500 System and on Direct TV.
2002 SCHEDULE PITS COUGARS AGAINST NATION'S BEST
The 2002 BYU women's soccer team opens the season playing its first three games against teams that participated in last year's NCAA Women's Soccer College Cup.
The University of Portland opens the Cougars' season at South Field on August 30. Then BYU travels to Wolverine country to take on Michigan in Ann Arbor. Kentucky and St. Mary's will make first-ever appearances at South Field on Sept. 6 and Sept. 27.
BYU will have to battle its remaining NCAA tournament participants on the road with a trip to Los Angeles for matchups against USC and UCLA and to South Bend for a first-ever meeting with Notre Dame.
The Cougar team spends the first three weeks of October on the road, returning to South Field on Oct. 24. The team's itinerary includes trips to Washington, Montana, Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico.
In MWC action, the Cougars will spend most of conference play on the road, hosting only UNLV and San Diego State. But beginning November 6, by virtue of winning last year's Championships in Las Vegas, BYU hosts this year's Mountain West Conference Championships with the title game scheduled for Sat., Nov. 9. The MWC champion gets an automatic bid into the 2002 NCAA Women's College Cup Championships which begin on Nov. 13.
SCOUTING THE PILOTS
Portland comes to Provo armed with a number three national preseason ranking in the Soccer Buzz Poll and a fourth-place ranking in the NSCAA/Adidas NCAA Division I Top 25 Preseason poll. The Pilots are picked to finish second behind national champions Santa Clara in the West Coast Conference. The team returns nine of its 11 starters from last year's team led by All-American forward Christine Sinclair.
However, Sinclair will miss the opening game against the Cougars due to her commitment to Team Canada at the 2002 FIFA U-19 Women's World Championships. Sinclair along with teammate senior defender Lauren Orlandos were named to the Soccer Buzz Elite 12 preseason All-America team.
Friday night's contest will be the season opener for both teams.
COUGARS GRAB THIRD CONSECUTIVE MWC TITLE
Complete dominance is the best way to describe BYU's stranglehold on the Mountain West Conference. The Cougars have won both the regular season and tournament titles in the MWC in each of the last three years. After taking care of business during the regular season, going 17-2 in three years of MWC conference play, BYU proved to be the real deal by winning the conference tournament as well.
The streak began in 1999, when BYU posted a 2-1 victory over San Diego State University to win the tournament title. In 2000, the Cougars beat Utah 6-1 to again claim the title. Last year, UNLV became the next victim in BYU's incredible run, losing 2-1 to the Cougars in the MWC tournament championship game.
For the 2002 season, the conference coaches also voted the Cougars to win the regular season and championship crown.
CREAM OF THE CROP
The nine new freshmen players set to kick off their soccer collegiate years at BYU this fall were recently ranked the 17th best recruiting class in the nation by Soccer Buzz Magazine. That's the highest ranking ever for an incoming class in the program's history. BYU also finished fifth in the West Region behind UCLA, Arizona State, Stanford and California.
All-Americans Brooke Bowman (Plano, TX) and Jennifer Fielding (Pasco, WA) are two of the highly touted players. Bowman and Fielding will add more strength and depth to BYU's team along with the other seven very experienced and accomplished freshmen.
Jamie Rendich and Brooke Thulin, from Southern California have trained and played in one of the country's most talented pools of players. Their So. Cal Blues club is considered one of the top youth clubs in the country with a National Youth Championship to prove it. They have also both represented Southern California on their State ODP team and on the Region IV ODP team.
Two of the Utah recruits, Ashley Smith and Natalie Evans, along with sophomore keeper Amanda Gott, will be vying for the starting goalkeeper spot.
South Field, home to the Cougars since 1995, is a tough place to steal a victory. In seven seasons, BYU has posted a 52-8-1 (.852) record on their home grass. At one point, the Cougars had a three-year win streak in Provo, from Sept. 30, 1995 to Sept. 6, 1998.
BYU's home field advantage is enhanced by the presence of a large and vocal Cougar crowd. Attendance at South Field consistently ranks among the best in the nation. Last year, BYU ranked 12th among national attendance leaders with an average of 1,087 fans filling the seats at South Field.
THE ROCKWOOD FILE
Jennifer Rockwood begins her eighth season at the helm of BYU's women's soccer program. In six years she has guided her team to four conference championships and five straight appearances in the NCAA Championships, beginning with the 1997 season. The Cougars have had two "Sweet Sixteen" finishes: in 1998 and in 2000, both times losing to Santa Clara. Last year the BYU team lost to Nebraska in Second Round action. Her many honors include two Coach of the Year honors by the WAC in 1996 and in 2000 by the MWC.
Under Rockwood's tutelage, a long list of All-American soccer players have emerged from BYU's program. Among them are two that are current players of the newly organized Women's United Soccer Association. Maren Hendershot plays for the San Jose Cyberrays and Shauna Rohbock with the San Diego Spirit. Other noteworthy All-Americans include Aleisha Cramer Rose, Staci Reynolds and Michelle Peterson.
During the 2000 season, she became the first MWC coach to eclipse the 100-win total on Sept. 23 with a 2-0 victory over Milwaukee-Wisconsin. Entering the 2000 season, coach Rockwood was ranked fifth among active coaches by winning percentage. She has averaged 18.6 wins per season over the past five years, which ranks second behind only Anson Dorrance of North Carolina for wins per season. Dorrance has won an average of 22.2 matches per season.
Prior to becoming the head coach, Rockwood led BYU's highly successful club soccer team for six years. In her final two years, she took her teams to first place in the Western National Collegiate Club Soccer Association (NCCSA) championships and to second place in the NCCSA national championships.
The Lake Oswego, Oregon, native was a three-sport athlete in soccer, basketball and track. After one year at Ricks College on a basketball scholarship, she transferred to BYU and was four-year starter at center midfield on the Cougars' club team.
Rockwood has also coached in the Utah ODP , the youth club's and high school levels.
Year W L T Conference
1995 11 8 1 WAC
1996 22 1 0 WAC
1997 19 4 0 WAC
1998 20 5 0 WAC
1999 21 4 0 MWC
2000 19 4 1 MWC
2001 14 7 1 MWC
2002 0 0 0 MWC
126 33 3 (.777)
BYU club team under Rockwood:
128-25-9 (.790), six years (1989-1994)
COUGARS LOVE COUGARS
Several members of the Cougars' soccer team have married members of BYU's other athletic teams. Junior defender Farrah Hofheins-Olmstead is married to Shawn Olmstead, a member of BYU's volleyball team. Terra Smith-Bigelow stole the heart of Mark Bigelow, a star on BYU's basketball team. Senior Jeni Willardson-Viernes likes to kick it around with husband Spencer, who is on the men's soccer club team at BYU. Also of note, freshman midfilder/defender Brooke Thulin has a brother, J.R., who is an offensive lineman for the football team.
PERFECT 3-0 IN SEASON OPENERS SINCE 1999
Since 1999, the inaugural year of the Mountain West Conference, BYU has posted a 3-0 record in its opening day matches. In 1999, a road trip down to Arizona to face Arizona State resulted in a 3-2 victory for the Cougars. An in-state battle in the 2000 season opener against Weber State found BYU on the winning side of a 7-1 score. Last year, USC left Provo with a 2-0 loss to the Cougars.
DEFENSE GARNERS NATIONAL RECOGNITION
BYU's ability to shutout its opponents is among the best at the national level. The Cougars tied for 18th nationally in shutouts per game last year, holding opponents scoreless in 11 of 22 games for a 0.50 average. BYU has posted three seasons with 11 shutouts (1998, 1999, 2001), while the Cougars' 1996 team holds the school record at 12.
BYU TO HOST 2002 MWC TOURNAMENT
The Cougars will play host to the 2002 Mountain West Conference Championships Nov. 6-9 at South Field in Provo. The following is a breakdown of the three-day tournament. The winner of the Championship receives an automatic bid into the 2002 NCAA Women's College Cup Championships which begin Nov. 13.
Wednesday, Nov. 6
Game 1: No. 4 seed vs. No. 5
Game 2: No. 2 seed vs. No. 7
Game 3: No. 3 seed vs. No. 6
*The No. 1 seed receives a first-round bye.
Thursday, Nov. 7
Game 4: No. 1 seed vs. Game 1 winner
Game 5: Game 2 winner vs. Game 3 winner
Saturday, Nov. 9
Championship game between semifinals winners.
After Friday night's game, the BYU women's soccer team makes its first road trip of the year, heading to Wolverine country to battle No. 17 Michigan on Labor Day in a 1 p.m. kick off.