Loyal Cougars

National, WCC coaches differ on BYU soccer’s preseason outlook

In this week’s national preseason NCAA coaches pool the Cougars ranked sixth, the highest of any BYU’s fall sports. The Cougars return a strong team after last year and perhaps soccer coaches do what a lot of football coaches and writers do, which is basically take last year’s poll and shift teams a spot or two and call it a day.

BYU is coming off an exciting and dominant year, losing a heartbreaking Elite 8 tournament game on its home field to long-time national powerhouse North Carolina. Although that can’t be everything. Coaches have spent the year scouting and preparing and should have some idea what each of them will be facing this upcoming fall season.

What’s interesting to me is to compare average opinion of the national coaches with the opinions of the ten WCC coaches. Conference coaches voted the Cougars third behind Santa Clara, who was 16th in the national poll and Portland, who was 22nd.  Maybe local WCC coaches know player turnover better than national coaches, but I can’t image national coaches are completely blind

BYU is still the new kid on the West Coast Conference block, and while some fans worry about the men’s basketball strength outside of Gonzaga and St. Mary’s, the WCC is a powerhouse in soccer. Plus, nobody in its member schools has yanked any of our forwards down by their ponytails yet. So there’s that.

Are the WCC coaches just not willing to give the new team — and one of the few BYU teams that have been able to bring home a WCC conference championship — the benefit of the doubt? Sure, BYU has four of the 11 all-conference nods, with Portland, Santa Clara and Pepperdine each with 2. Furthermore, BYU’s preseason all-conference players come from all over the field with Cloee Colohan and Rachel Manning in the midfield, Michele Murphy attacking and standout goal keeper Erica Owens.

Sure, BYU finished first last year, and sure they have twice as many all-conference players as anyone else, and sure the national coaches rate them 10 spots higher, but out of habit, is it kind of hard to vote for anyone other than Santa Clara or Portland for that preseason first place spot?

As a spectator, what else could you ask for from BYU soccer? These Cougars a’re winners. They’re the highest ranked team on campus, plus, their games are free and/or accessible, thanks to BYUtv or a bargain-priced ticket if you’re in town. The players are determined and fun, and finally, now with local coaches giving them less credit than their national peers, they get to play the “no one believes in us” card.