Cowgirls Soccer Opens Season Thursday at South Dakota, Hosts Utah Valley Sunday

Wyoming Cowgirl soccer will kick off its non-conference season on the road against the South Dakota Coyotes on Thursday afternoon. The match is set for 3 p.m. MT at the First Bank & Trust Soccer Complex in Vermillion, S.D.

The Cowgirls return to the friendly confines of the Louis S. Madrid on Sunday for the home opener against Utah Valley. Game time is set for 1 p.m.

UW Athletics and the team will also be hosting a Pups on the Pitch promotion on Sunday. Fans are encouraged to bring their furry friends for the day. There will be $1 hot dogs for all fans in attendance and there will be free doggy bandanas given out, one per dog while supplies last.

“I think there will be a lot of excitement when we get home in front of our home crowd,” head coach Pete Cuadrado said. “We know how well we play at home and it will be a great opportunity to showcase that on Sunday. For us, it’s about controlling those emotions and sticking to the details, especially early in the year so things go your way. We have good leadership from our senior class and they do a good job with our young newcomers. One of the keys for us will be is staying fresh in the game and finishing our chances. That’s what it will come down to.”

UW dropped a 2-0 contest against 16th-ranked UCF Knights, last Thursday night in Orlando. The match consisted of three 30 minute periods and started about 90 minutes after originally scheduled due to inclement weather. Neither team could get anything going until the 20 minute mark with a shot by Lauren Nemeroff was sent on goal, but was saved by junior Cristina Salazar.

The Cowgirls first shot came at the 28:20 mark by junior Michaela Stark which sailed wide. It continued to remain scoreless until Asia Ervin fired off a pass to Konya Plummer who found the back of the net to put the Knights up 1-0. Freshman Indianna Asimus tried for the equalizer shortly after with the Cowgirls only shot of the period but it was saved by Caroline DeLisle. Less than five minutes later, UCF found the goal again as Darya Rajaee connected with Mathilde Kack to double the lead, 2-0. In the final 30 minutes, the Knights stayed aggressive and outshot Wyoming 11-1 including three shots on goal. U

Wyoming returns six starters and 16 letterwinners from last season’s squad that went 8-9-2 overall and 4-6-1 in the Mountain West.

Entering his seventh season at the helm, Cuadrado has an record of 54-51-15 during his tenure at UW, including 29-26-6 mark in league play. Senior Brittney Stark was selected to the All-Newcomer team a season ago.

Several individuals will be looked upon to contribute during the 2018 campaign, including the six returning starters. Senior Brittney Stark completed her junior campaign with a team-high eight goals, 18 points and three game winning goals. Fellow senior Taylor Burton recorded three goals and had two game winning goals, while senior Morgan McDougal finished with one goal and one assist in her first season with the program. Junior Michaela Stark added two goals and one assist followed by senior Jessie Gentle with two assists and three shots. 

The Cowgirls currently hold the longest non-conference home unbeaten streak in the country among D-I programs. Wyoming’s last loss at home against a non-conference opponent came on Sept. 22, 2013, to Idaho State in double overtime. The Cowgirls are 11-0-2 during the streak.

South Dakota is 0-1-0 during the exhibition season with a 2-1 loss against North Dakota on Saturday. They will host the College of Saint Mary on Tuesday prior to the Cowgirls.

The Coyotes returns seven starters and 17 letterwinners from a squad that went 4-13-0 overall and 2-5-0 in the Summit League during the 2017 campaign. That includes juniors Kellee Willer and Taryn LaBree who were both Second Team All-League selections. Willer finished the year with three goals and assists, plus nine points while LaBree had three goals and one assist. USD is coached by first year head coach Michael Thomas.

This will be the fifth meeting between the two squads. UW leads the series 3-1-0. The last time the two met was Sept. 12, 2014. The Cowgirls came out on top with a 2-1 victory on the road.

“We know that we are going to have our hands full with South Dakota,” Cuadrado added. “There is no such thing as a guaranteed result or easy game at our level. I know they’ll be excited. They have a new head coach, new staff and opening the season like we are. For us, it’s a business trip and we have to go focus on the details and execute a game-plan.”

Utah Valley defeated Idaho State, 3-1, on Monday in its only exhibition game of the season. They will travel to Berkley to open the regular season against the Cal Bears before heading to take on the Cowgirls.

The Wolverines 12 letterwinners and eight starters from last year’s WAC championship team who went 10-12-1 overall and 5-2-0- in league play a year ago. They welcome back all-WAC honoree Hannah Bruce and second-team all-WAC standout Breanna McCarter, plus Amber Tripp who was the WAC Freshman of the Year.

Bruce started in 22 of UVU’s 23 matches during her sophomore campaign. McCarter, who was also named to the WAC All-Tournament team last season, returns scoring seven goals, five assists and 19 points during UVU’s championship run in 2017. Tripp was third on the team last year with five goals.

Wyoming leads the overall series, 6-2-0 and a 4-0-0 mark at home. The last time the two teams met was Sept. 8, 2017 with the Wolverines coming out on top 2-1 in Orem. The last home meeting the Cowgirls won 1-0 in double overtime on Sept. 9, 2016.

“Utah Valley is a really good team. They are always a tough team. They’ve had our number on the road and we’ve had them at home, so we need to make sure we keep that going. They went to the NCAA Tournament a season ago, one of the top teams in their conference and a lot of good players. We will certainly have our hands full.”