|Banner Season for Several Local College Soccer Players
By Jason Turner
The Herald Journal
It was a banner year for several Cache Valley women’s soccer players competing at the collegiate level.
only did starting left back Jessica Hoskin (Mountain Crest) help lead
Utah State to its second straight NCAA Tournament appearance, a handful
of other local athletes played key roles on some of their most
successful teams in school history.
For starters, BYU captain
Cami Jensen (Logan) helped guide the Cougars to the Elite Eight of the
NCAA College Cup. It’s only the second time BYU — or any other team
from the Beehive State, for that matter — has ever advanced to that
stage of the NCAA tourney.
“It was phenomenal,” said Jensen,
whose team won a program-record 20 matches in 2012. “We worked so hard
this past year after not having the season we wanted to in 2011. ... We
really just turned it around, and we knew we’d do really well, but we
weren’t expecting to have such a great year because of our schedule and
how it was going to be. But we really pulled together and did a really
At Idaho State, defenders Morgan Olson (Logan) and
Taylor McBride (Mountain Crest) helped the Bengals turn things around
after winning just five games with most of the same starting lineup in
2011. ISU went 11-6-3 this season and won the Big Sky Conference
regular season and tournament championships, which punched the Bengals’
first NCAA tourney ticket since 2006.
Olson, a senior, and McBride, a sophomore, were both in the starting lineup for the lion’s share of ISU’s season.
could just tell by spring of (2012) that our team had turned around and
we had found our chemistry,” McBride said. “We have such a tight bond,
and I honestly think that was the difference of this year. We’re all
extremely close and there’s nothing that each of us wouldn’t do for one
another, on and off the field.”
Meanwhile, at the junior college
ranks, a trio of local competitors helped propel Iowa Western Community
College to one of its best seasons ever. Danica Hansen (Sky View),
Kasandra Anderson (Mountain Crest) and Morgan Olsen (Mountain Crest)
were also starters for the Reivers, who went 19-2-1 and lost a
heartbreaking penalty kick shootout to eventual national champion
Paradise Valley Community College in the semifinals of the NJCAA
Division I Tournament.
“This team and this season was just
phenomenal,” said Hansen, who started every match at center back for
IWCC. “Like every game, we all just had so much fun playing. Coming
into this season, I couldn’t have asked for a better year. ... Every
game we all played (well) together, and when we first started playing
we all connected really well.”
Additionally, a local athlete
helped lead Western Wyoming’s men’s soccer team to uncharted territory.
Freshman defender Nate Pierce started at least 11 matches for the
Mustangs, who advanced to the NJCAA Division I Tournament for the first
time in school history.
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to say, it was a memorable fall for these local student-athletes,
especially Jensen, who was a key cog on arguably the best college team
to ever come out of Utah.
The Cougars were very motivated headed
into the season after not receiving an at-large bid to the NCAA tourney
in 2011, despite finishing with a 5-2-1 record — 11-5-3 overall — in
the nationally respected West Coast Conference.
“It was devastating when we didn’t get in,” Jensen said.
was no doubt BYU would get in this season, though — not after winning
the WCC with a record of 7-0-1. The Cougars were awarded one of the
four No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament and finished the regular season
second in the NSCAA/Continental Tire national rankings.
As a No.
1 seed — “it was just very humbling and a great experience to be a No.
1 seed,” Jensen said — the Cougars earned the right to play at home all
the way to the final four, should they advance that far. BYU darn near
did, beating USU 2-1, Auburn 1-0 and Marquette in penalty kicks to
advance to the round of eight.
In the Elite Eight, BYU hosted
the nation’s most storied program in North Carolina, which had an
up-and-down regular season after missing several key players for long
stretches due to their participation in the U20 World Cup. Jensen,
primarily a left back her senior year, and the rest of the Cougar
backline held firm against a vaunted and athletic Tar Heel attack
before yielding a double overtime goal in a 2-1 setback.
Carolina went on to beat defending champion Stanford in double OT in
the semifinals before thumping Penn State 4-1 for its record 22nd NCAA
“It was honestly a dream come true ... to finish my
career playing North Carolina at home in the Elite 8,” said Jensen, who
played 57 minutes off the bench against the Tar Heels.
wouldn’t have earned the right to play North Carolina if it wasn’t for
the heroics of Jensen. The Cougars trailed Marquette 3-2 in the fifth
round of PKs before No. 4 calmly stepped up and knotted things up in a
“A couple days before (that match), I took
40 PKs because I knew it was going to come down to that eventually, so
I was just very prepared and felt very confident,” Jensen said.
knee injury, sustained early in the season in a road showdown against
Utah, limited Jensen’s effectiveness in ’12, but she still started 14
matches as a senior. Jensen appeared in 69 career matches for the
Cougars and made 38 career starts — all over her final three seasons.
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Jensen, Olson was a four-year impact player at the D-I level. In fact,
Olson was a starting center back for most of her four seasons with ISU.
No. 20, an honorable mention all-Big Sky selection as a freshman, made
61 career starts for the Bengals.
Olson started all but one
match for ISU her first two seasons, but a horrific injury her junior
year led to some trying times. In Idaho State’s final non-conference
game of 2011, Olson went up for a 50-50 ball against a much taller Utah
Valley player, who caught the Logan native with an elbow to the face.
impact of the elbow “broke my cheekbone on contact,” Olson said, “and
my cheekbone went over and broke (bones) in my nose, and I broke some
blood vessels in my eye. And so it was just kind of my whole face that
didn’t look too pretty. That’s pretty much what happened in a nutshell.”
who needed two surgeries for her injuries, didn’t return until the
final two conference matches, and she had to get used to playing with a
mask. She even had to wear the mask the following spring.
“But the worst part of it was just kind of getting my (starting) spot back because I was so used to having my spot,” Olson said.
Olson was in and out of the starting lineup as a senior. She still
started 14 of the team’s 20 games, but came off the bench in ISU’s 3-0
first-round NCAA loss at Stanford.
“It’s so true how people say
that the bad things make the good things better,” Olson said. “It was
awesome. It couldn’t have gone any better, my senior year and being
able to go out with a conference championship. And then to go to
Stanford, it was the coolest thing in the world.”
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McBride, the Bengals’ right back, played 83 minutes against Stanford and led the squad with two shots on goal.
know, when we first all heard about (playing Stanford), I think kind of
our gut feeling was like, ‘Oh crap,’” McBride said. “But at the same
time (we were also thinking), ‘Bring it on. We had nothing to lose and
this was just such an awesome opportunity for us to be able to play
such a big time school.’ And I think, altogether, it was just a great
The sophomore from Wellsville played in 19 matches
this season and made 13 starts. Like Olson in 2009, McBride was
selected as the Bengals’ top freshman in 2011, when she saw action in
Cache Valley’s three players at Iowa Western might have been crowned national champions if it wasn’t for a bout of bad luck.
Reivers’ shootout loss to the Pumas ended in controversy. IWCC led 4-3
in the shootout when Paradise Valley’s Jessie DeLeon approached the
ball for her PK and then stopped, which is a no-no. As a result, DeLeon
was issued a yellow card.
“She went up to go kick it and it
looked like she was going to kick it, but what it seemed like was our
goalie judged the way she was going to go ... so the girl stopped right
before she was going to kick it,” Hansen explained.
flow of a game, a player must leave the field after receiving a yellow
card, but according to a press release on the NJCAA website, there is
currently no rule in place forcing a carded player to come off the
field during a shootout.
DeLeon was granted a second opportunity
and was successful. The Pumas ended up prevailing 5-4 in the shootout,
which was a necessity when the two teams were knotted at 1-all after
110 minutes of soccer.
Match officials and NJCAA representatives
met with both head coaches after the game, according to the release,
and it was determined the final result was official. Hansen, however,
did not mince words as the Hyde Park native said she felt “gypped” by
Paradise Valley ended up winning the championship match in convincing fashion, 3-0, for its second title in three years.
Iowa Western entered the tournament ranked third nationally, which was much higher than its No. 15 preseason ranking.
a freshman from Nibley, started all but one match for the Reivers. The
midfielder finished fourth on the team in goals (15) and assists
(nine). Olsen, a sophomore from Providence, started 18 matches at left
back, and scored two goals and assisted on four others.
IWCC won its first two matches at nationals.
Western Wyoming’s men went 1-1 at nationals and didn’t advance past pool play. The Mustangs finished the season 15-10-1.
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