LAIE, Hawaii (Dec. 2, 2013) – After winning its final eight matches in a row, the BYU-Hawaii women's soccer team wrapped up a successful 2013 season.
"Game after game we got better every time this season," head coach Alex Ruegner said. "Mentally they got better. Soccer we got better. The team got closer as the season went on. That's more than any coach can ask for."
Despite a slow start, the Seasiders finished the year at 9-4-2 with a Pacific West Conference record of 8-3-1 for a third place finish, narrowly missing out on postseason play.
BYU-Hawaii founded their success on strong defense, timely scoring and relied heavily on every single player on the team, including a group of nine talented seniors.
"It's always nice to have an older group of girls. The majority of them have been around two, three or even all four years," Ruegner said. "It was extra special since most of the time we don't have more than four or five seniors. To have a group of girls that dedicated was a huge help. As far as maturity goes and the right attitude- a good group of girls that really cared about the program was great."
The Seasiders posted nine shutouts, including seven in a row. The total tied for second best in the league and the team had a 0.77 goals against average, allowing just 12 total goals on the season.
Six players earned All-PacWest honors in some way. McKenzie Evans earned third team recognition at the forward position with seven total points in 2013 while wing Brittney Crump earned honorable mention. Midfielder Kailee Kartchner was also an honorable mention while defender Sarah Bodily picked up third team honors and backline mate Korral Koehler was an honorable mention.
Goalkeeper Megan McCain was also an honorable mention, posting nine clean sheets in 2013, averaging 3.67 saves per game with a .821 save percentage.
After a disappointing loss in the opener, the Seasiders bounced back with a tie and a victory before setting out on the mainland trip, beginning with the top two teams in the PacWest.
Back-to-back losses to Azusa Pacific and Cal Baptist were not what BYU-Hawaii had in mind to start the trip and then a loss to Point Loma the next game made the start to the season look pretty bleak. A showdown with conference foe Dixie State proved to be just what the Seasiders needed to get rolling.
Down 2-0 late in the match, BYU-Hawaii scored two goals in under six minutes of play in the second period to come away with a tie after two overtimes. Bodily scored the first goal in the 78th minute from 25 yards away and Crump knocked one in with an assist from Evans in the 84th minute to tie it up.
"That Dixie game started slow just like the road trip but we made adjustments," Ruegner said. "Key players came on. Other girls on the team stepped up, including our freshman class in that game to give a big boost."
The draw sparked the Seasiders and sent them back to Hawaii with a little bit of momentum to start a seven-game homestand.
"To see the girls fight and claw and not give up and on the last game of tough road trip was amazing," Ruegner said. "You could see the character of those girls and the will to win. They never gave up and came back tie it. That really helped sling shot everything into rest of the season."
The wins started to pile up, starting with Dominican and Notre Dame de Namur. A late goal from Sydnee Vidal lifted BYU-Hawaii over Fresno Pacific in the 85th minute with a 1-0 victory to keep the streak alive.
The Seasiders picked up two more wins over Chaminade and Academy of Art, both 2-0 shutouts.
Next up was Holy Names, a team that was coming in winless in the league with nothing to lose that gave BYU-Hawaii all it could handle.
After 104 scoreless minutes into the second overtime, Kim Micheletti saved the day with a breakaway goal for the victory.
In another thriller the following match, Tasha Campbell had the late heroics with a goal in minute 87 to win it 1-0 over Hawaii Pacific. The Seasiders beat Hilo on the big island, giving BYU-Hawaii a terrific eight-game winning streak to send the seniors off right, even without a postseason bid.
"The girls have no reason to hang their heads but to be proud," Ruegner said. "We had ups and downs, but overcame obstacles and ended up on a high note. Winning so many in a row was a good way to send off our seniors."
Ruegner has returned to the mainland to pursue other goals and leaves the program to men's coach Mark Davis, who will now coach both programs.
"I think Mark is passionate and driven and excited to work hard," Ruegner said. "The girls are excited to work hard. With the talent coming in we will have a really solid young team with a new face and new look in building upon the tradition. This group will do well with the passion and desire from Mark to succeed. He has a talent to bring really good players in. We will be a really tough team to beat for years to come."