Conference newcomer BYU topples the Pilots 2-1 in overtime of WCC opener
By Jason Hortsch Staff Writer email@example.com
Finding themselves in a battle to make the playoffs, the UP women's soccer team is looking to earn their first conference win this Friday, Oct. 14 against San Diego. The Pilots, who are currently 5-6-1 after a loss to BYU last Thursday, will likely have to rely on the WCC champion's automatic bid to make the postseason.
Despite the rocky start and setbacks they have endured, both players and coaches do not shy away from the challenge awaiting them. Senior forward Danielle Foxhoven emphasizes the need for every player to hold themselves accountable.
"Always one of our focuses is a personal responsibility by all of us," Foxhoven said. "If all of us individually do our personal responsibility, then collectively we do our responsibility as a team. All of us have an individual responsibility we are looking to do and grow upon."
Coach Garrett Smith is as aware as any of the need for success in conference play. He emphasized on the importance of maintaining mental focus.
"We're not used to having a record like this," Smith said. "We're working on everything; it's a mentality more than anything. Right now our mentality is to make the playoffs."
Both Smith and junior outside midfielder and defender Taylor Brooke point to a lack of experience at various positions as a main factor of the uncharacteristically slow start for the team.
"At the beginning of the year we didn't expect to have three starting defenders with injuries," Smith said. "It's put a hole in our back line, and it shows."
"Obviously it's been a surprise to a lot of people how our performance has been," Brooke said. "I think one of the main contributors is that we lost a lot of talent last year. We have a lot of really big slots to fill. We have people in new positions, and there's not a lot of experience on the field sometimes."
Despite the slow start, there have been positives the team can take away from their first batch of games. Foxhoven was particularly proud of the development she has seen in the team.
"We've grown since the beginning of the season," Foxhoven said. "It's hard to lose. It's a new task to lose. That in and of itself is something new that people are dealing with. I'm proud of the character that has been shown by everyone."
Brooke took pride in the depth of leadership being exhibited by the team.
"I think right now we are starting to see people step up into leadership roles that were maybe not asked to step into those roles at the beginning of the season," Brooke said.
Smith has been encouraged by the effort of his team, even if the results have not been materializing.
"Even though we haven't been getting results, I like the competitiveness our team has," Smith said. "They're trying to do everything they can by working hard. You can go two ways as an athlete - check out, or try and do more, like our team has."
With conference play starting to get into full swing, the team realizes it has an opportunity to start anew, while still being under pressure to make the playoffs.
"Come conference, it's the beginning of another season," Foxhoven said. "We had to step back and put everything behind us because those games don't matter anymore. We have to win conference to get into playoffs and we know that."
"This year the conference championship may be our only lifeline to the playoffs, so conference play definitely has special meaning," Smith added. "In past years we tried to get a clean slate in conference to earn a top seed in playoffs. This year we're just trying to get to the playoffs."
The Pilots will look to steady their season and earn their first conference win with home games at 7 p.m. this Friday against San Diego and Saint Mary's at 1 p.m. on Sunday.