Loyal Cougars

BYU Soccer Preview: Erica Owens back, but plenty of questions for 2013 women’s squad

After a 5-0 drubbing of the Haiti women’s national team, the BYU women’s soccer team opened up the 2013 season with a 3-1 win over Cal State Fullerton. Despite several key losses at the point of attack and along the back line, early signs are that there is enough returning talent on this year’s squad to live up to a No. 9 preseason national ranking.

But with a dearth of leadership and the high of BYU’s first Sweet 16 appearance in two decades, will the Cougars fall back to earth? Or can they repeat as WCC champions and prove to be more than one-year wonders?

First, let’s preview who is coming back for the 2013 roster:


GK Erica Owens (GK) — If there is one place the Cougars are set this year, it’s in the back. Owens, the starting goalkeeper in every game last year, allowed only 13 goals on the season and spearheaded a defense that won nine one-goal games in 2012. Expect to see plenty of leadership — maybe even the captain’s armband — from the senior netminder whom the Cougars refer to as Erica OWNS on Twitter.

MF Michele Murphy (So.) — The sophomore midfielder isn’t afraid to play up top enjoyed a breakout freshman season, earning top underclassmen honors from the WCC, Soccer America, TopDrawerSoccer.com and CollegeSportsMadness.com. Her 23 points tied for first on the team, and her eight goals were second to only departed senior Carlee Payne Holmoe. With a cooly-efficient 24 shots on goal, the Alta High product and preseason All-WCC midfielder will be counted on to help spearhead the Cougar attack in only her second season.

F Jaiden Thornock (Jr.) — As a sophomore, the Bonneville High alumna ranked fourth on the team with 18 points after racking up six goals and six assists. Look for Thornock to pair up often with Murphy out of the midfield, as they strive to replace seniors Holmoe and Jessica Ringwood.


F Carlee Payne Holmoe (graduation) — The offensive catalyst during a stellar four-year career for the Cougars, the former Carlee Payne won’t be back to replicate her seven-goal, nine-assist effort in 2013. More amazing is that she did it all on only 20 shots on target in 24 games — converting at a .513 clip — for a team-high four game winners.

D Lindsi Lisonbee-Cutshall (graduation) — The defensive maestro has taken her talents to the National Women’s Soccer League, when New Jersey-based Sky Blue FC took her with the No. 4 overall pick in last year’s draft. But head coach Jenn Rockwood will be looking to fill her spot as soon as possible. Three goals and two assists may seem easy enough to replace, but Lisonbee-Cutshall was a defensive anchor on the back line, and the loss of leadership will leave a gaping hole that needs to be filled sooner rather than later.



Aug. 31 vs Nebraska (BYUtv)

Sept. 2 at No. 25 Louisiana State (CSTV)

Sept. 6 vs Utah (BYUtv)

As if these two teams needed more reasons to get up for each other, a 1-0 road defeat to the Utes was the only regular-season loss during BYU’s stellar run that ended in the Elite Eight to eventual national champion North Carolina. Back in the familiar confines of South Stadium, expect the Cougars to Go Fast and Go Hard against their Northern Rivals. But with only four days to recover from a trip to nationally ranked LSU, will BYU have enough gas left in the tank to pull off the win?

Sept. 12 at Oregon (Pac-12 Network)

Looking to re-establish itself as the team to beat out west, BYU heads into this vital contest with one of the Pac-12’s best with a chip on its shoulder and something to defend after last year’s 1-0 win in Eugene, Ore.

Oct. 4 at No. 10 Baylor

West Coast Conference

Oct. 12 at No. 11 Santa Clara (12-4-6 in 2012)

All roads to a WCC title will go through Santa Clara’s Buck Shaw Stadium, after the Broncos landed the No. 11 national ranking and top spot in the WCC preseason coaches’ poll. After a third-place finish last season, expect top-flight scorer Sofia Huerta to have the Broncs firing on all cylinders after a fist-pumping early trip to top-ranked UNC.

Oct. 26 at No. 15 Portland (11-5-5 in 2012)

The Pilots nearly toppled the Cougars’ quest for a WCC title a season ago, losing only once in conference play, at BYU. Expect Portland — the training ground of myriad national team stars from the USA and Canada — to try to return the favor when it welcomes BYU to the Pacific Northwest in October. Led by All-WCC preseason picks Amanda Frisbie and Michelle Cruz, the Pilots present one of the stiffest challenges to the Cougars’ bid for consecutive conference championships.



  1. Brett Hein

    August 24, 2013 at 11:35 am

    I look forward to catching a few matches on BYUtv this year. Good teams deserve some pub — and also, non-football and non-basketball teams at BYU have it made. No other school in the country gets teams on TV like BYU. An awesome thing for the athletes and their families.

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  4. Phil Spackman

    August 27, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    They have all the makings of having another great season. My wife and me got to know Coach Jennifer Rockwood earlier this summer. She and I spent a lot of time in our living room talking about this years team. Coach is really stoked about this team you can see it in her eyes and feel it coming from her. As long as this team has Erica Owens in the nets they have a chance to win every game. She is very underrated as a goalkeeper. Erica should have been an All American last year, she is one of the best in college soccer. Erica is the leader of this team and she inspires the team to play better because they know she has their back. Michelle Murphy has what I call Wayne Gretzky type ability. She is able to do things that no one else can do on a soccer field. Coach told me that they are all amazed at the things she is able to do. She is going to be a great one before she is finished playing at BYU.