LAIE, Hawaii (Dec. 2, 2013) – The BYU-Hawaii men's soccer team put together the best season in school history over the course of the 2013 campaign.
The Seasiders finished the year with a program-best nine victories, with a 9-3-4 overall record and a 7-2-3 record in the Pacific West Conference for a fourth-place finish, the highest ever for the school.
"We were excited how we ended up," head coach Mark Davis said. "It was a great year but we feel like there is plenty of room for improvement. I'm plenty hungry to come back in 2014 and I think the boys are especially hungry to get to the NCAA tournament and win the PacWest."
Coach Davis earned Coach of the Year in the PacWest, sharing the honor with Fresno Pacific's coach. One of the highlights of the season was a 3-0 victory over the Sunbirds, the eventual conference champions.
Goalie Chris Pineda earned Goalkeeper of the Year and First Team All-PacWest, the first Seasider to earn first team honors for the school. He was joined on the all-conference teams by second teamers Landon Southwick and Colby Bauer, third team honoree Michael Moreno and honorable mention Matthew Rider.
The Seasiders' season featured a stingy defense that pitched eight shutouts, ranking them No. 11 nationally in shutout percentage. The team was also No. 18 in team goals against average and No. 24 in save percentage.
"We are always a defense first team. Top to bottom defense is the most important thing to us," Davis said. "Gabe and Dave gave us great attack through the wings. We meshed well and what more can I say about Landon and [Matt] Rider, they are top notch soccer players. We are looking forward to 2014 having one of the best defenses again."
Beyond the steady play of the defenders, BYU-Hawaii's forwards and midfielders provided defensive help and scoring punch, coming up big all year with so many new faces in the mix.
"Bauer was rock solid defensively, Colby never seemed to lose a 50-50 ball," Davis said on other big pieces of the team. "Chad Nahoolewa on the wing is an offensive player but was very disciplined in getting back to help defensively. The same was with Brady Berry getting points for us when we needed it. We had several other guys, freshman, newcomers and veterans step up throughout the year."
The opening matches of the season were up and down. After a tie with Cal State San Bernardino, the Seasiders dropped their first road contest at Hilo but bounced back with wins at Chaminade and a wild 4-2 victory at Hawaii Pacific.
After four goals were scored over a nine minute span in the first half, both teams were tied 2-2 at the break. Moreno two goals midway through the second half to give BYU-Hawaii the win and send the team on a grueling mainland trip with a 2-1-1 record.
The road trip started out tough, with losses to Azusa Pacific and Cal Baptist and a 0-0 tie to Point Loma.
"It was tough. I felt like we really played well against APU, flat vs. Cal Baptist and I was worried," Davis said. "I was worried we wouldn't bounce back. Sure enough the boys came together, had a conversation and found our identity - defense first and attack second - the boys really bought in after that."
Dixie State was the next stop on the road trip and BYU-Hawaii came through with two early goals from Moreno and Cameron Neeley to hold off the Red Storm, earning their first conference victory of the season.
The win sparked the Seasiders as they rolled to five consecutive wins, highlighted by an overtime victory over Notre Dame de Namur when Jonathan Larsen, a freshman waiting on his eligibility, came off the bench and scored two goals and the 3-0 shutout of Fresno Pacific in Laie.
"This is the second year in a row to beat Notre Dame, a top quality team," Davis said. "How we did it with Jonny not being eligible to start the year and the first day he can play to come in and score two goals and one in overtime. That was a special moment and Jonny worked hard to get where he was."
The win gave BYU momentum heading into a showdown with conference power Fresno Pacific. The Seasiders dominated from start to finish, beating the Sunbirds 3-0.
"It was by far the most complete game in BYU-Hawaii soccer history," Davis said. "It was 90 minutes of brilliant soccer. I was very pleased. The score line could have been 5-0. We were just awesome and everyone was on. That was where we peaked in my opinion."
After a 5-0 defeat of Chaminade, the Seasiders tied Academy of Art 0-0 but went on to beat Holy Names 3-0 and tie Hawaii Pacific 0-0.
In its last road contest of the season, BYU-Hawaii handed Hilo a 2-1 loss to avenge the Seasiders' first loss of the season earlier that year, ending the 2013 season on a high note.
"It was a great year, but next year has to be better," Davis said. "Nothing short of a conference championship will satisfy us. That's the only goal we have - win the conference and get to the postseason. We want to be the first team in BYUH history to reach the postseason."