College soccer: BYU to host Utah State in NCAA tourney opener
BYU has fielded a number of exceptional women's soccer teams in its history. None of those teams enjoyed the regular season put together by the Cougars in 2012.
For its effort, No. 4-ranked BYU is pleased with its first-ever No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Now the work begins, starting Friday at South Field against in-state rival Utah State. Kickoff time is 6 p.m.
Defending national champion Stanford is the overall No. 1 seed in the field of 64. The semifinals and championship take place at Torero Stadium at the University of San Diego on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.
"It's just amazing feeling," said BYU coach Jennifer Rockwood, whose team is the first women's team in any sport at BYU to claim a No. 1 tournament seed. "This is a special group of girls. We've had so much support from the university and coaching staffs."
The Cougars (18-1-1), champions of the West Coast Conference, have enjoyed tournament success. They made it to the Elite 8 in 2003. Starting in 2008, the Cougars advanced to two consecutive second-round games, including a shootout loss to USC.
Utah State (13-2-6) advanced to the NCAA tournament after beating Denver 1-0 on Sunday in the WAC championship. The Aggies, who are playing in their second consecutive NCAA tournament, were defeated 1-0 by BYU in Logan earlier this season.
"It is so satisfying to see the team develop," USU coach Heather Cairns said following Sunday's WAC tournament victory. "We lost some key players from last year. There were questions coming into the season."
Utah State, which would have its hands full with BYU anyway, faces an even stiffer challenge at electric South Field, where the Cougars average more than 3,300 fans.
"It's an amazing atmosphere," said BYU freshman Michele Murphy, the Cougars' leading goal scorer with eight. "We are so excited. We want to play our best but expect a hard-fought battle."
Utah State at BYU
P Friday,6 p.m.