Provo • Name the list of preseason honors and All-America teams for the 2012 season, and most likely Lindsi Lisonbee Cutshall was on it.
And BYU's senior defender didn't disappoint as she helped drive the Cougars to a 20-1-1 record, a top-five national ranking and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Now, Cutshall and the rest of the BYU women's soccer team find themselves 90 minutes away from a milestone moment. Friday at 6 p.m., the Cougars host perennial soccer power North Carolina for a spot in the NCAA College Cup Final Four.
The No. 2 seed Tar Heels, winners of 20 NCAA Championships, make their first trip to Provo where even the reserve seats have been sold.
"It's super exciting," Cutshall said. "With our home-field advantage and the crowds we draw, it should be super exciting."
In a sport where goal scorers draw much of the attention, Cutshall has emerged as BYU's best player on one of the country's best defenses. The Cougars have not allowed a goal in their past two tournament games, holding Auburn and Marquette scoreless.
Then again, Cutshall's reputation coming out of Park City High School was already set, named as a Parade All-American. She's been everything that BYU coach Jennifer Rockwood expected, even starting as a freshman.
"Lindsi is definitely the [defensive] anchor, especially this year," Rockwood said. "We've played a very competitive schedule and we've faced some very good attacking teams. Lindsi just covers so much ground. She's so quick and agile and so solid in the air. â¦ She just brings a confidence even if she doesn't touch the ball."
Most importantly, the slender, 5-foot-10 center back makes those around her better, and BYU needed to be this year as it defeated five ranked teams.
"She's an awesome teammate and an awesome leader," said senior forward Carlee Payne Holmoe. "You know she's going to work her butt off to win."
BYU is 65-13-9 during Cutshall's four seasons. And while other players have aided in building that record, Cutshall has been one of the consistent reasons that the Cougars are making their third NCAA Tournament appearance in four seasons.
In fact, it was last year's failure to receive an at-large bid, despite going 11-5-3, that sparked this historic season.
"This year we made it a goal to make sure we win conference championship," she said. "We took it as motivation. We weren't going to waste another year."
NCAA College Cup Quarterfinal
P No. 2 seed North Carolina (12-5-3) at No. 1 seed BYU (20-1-1)
When • Friday, 6 p.m.
Where • South Field
TV • BYUtv