BYU Cougars men's soccer
|Full name||Brigham Young University Cougars|
|Nickname(s)||BYU, The Cougars|
|Stadium||The Stadium at South Field
|Owner||Cecil O. Samuelson|
|Head Coach||Brandon Gilliam|
|League||Premier Development League|
|2017||4th, Mountain Division
BYU Cougars is an American soccer team based in Provo, Utah, United States. The team plays in the Premier Development League (PDL), the fourth tier of the American Soccer Pyramid, in the Southwest Division of the Western Conference.
Men’s soccer has had a presence at BYU dating back to 1955, when Carl and Harold Boden – two brothers who had recently moved from Germany to attend the school – placed an ad in the student newspaper and gathered enough players together to start a team. They joined the Utah Soccer League the following year, and began playing teams from around the state of the Utah. The university officially sanctioned soccer as a club sport in 1963.
The team received a major boost in 1969 with the arrival of former Italian soccer star Bruno Gerzeli, who had 14 seasons of experience as a professional player. Gerzeli had converted to the LDS faith in 1966 while living in Canada, and moved to Utah shortly thereafter. His coaching helped BYU secure the Daynes Cup - the top soccer trophy in the state – in 1970. He also provided some international exposure by arranging for the team to take a 22-day tour of his native Italy in 1974.
That same year, a new coach arrived: Shavji “Jim” Dusara, who had an extensive international résumé of his own. Dusara, who was born in India and raised in South Africa, had served as head coach of the national soccer team of Tanzania during Olympic qualifying in 1968 and 1972. He continued the trend of building BYU soccer with players from foreign countries – such as Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico, as well as Germany and Nigeria, among others – in addition to local talent from Utah and other parts of the United States. The team won the Daynes Cup for the second time in 1976.
The BYU men’s soccer team officially joined the NCAA in 1978. The team, then known as the “SoccerCats”, showed well in their first season, defeating rival Utah 3-0 and eventually finishing in second place in the WAC tournament, behind league champion UTEP. Dusara guided the team as head coach until 1987, when – controversially – he was dismissed by BYU’s athletic administration, and the men’s soccer program was dropped from NCAA status.
Club team status
The BYU Cougars team is the men's college soccer team of Brigham Young University, and are one of the few openly religious teams in the PDL, their host university being the flagship educational establishment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The soccer tradition at Brigham Young University is one filled with great success and constant improvement. From the time soccer was given club status in the 1980s to its present day, the soccer program has moved forward finding success in competition, player development, and community service. Brigham Young University dominated the Collegiate Club Soccer Championships (NIRSA) for a decade, winning national championships in 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2001 including an unprecedented run of 30 straight victories at the Club National Championships. This dominance has led to the program seeking higher quality competition in order to create a challenging environment where players can develop.
Because of the desire to compete against the best players and teams possible, in the year 2001, Brigham Young University participated in its first international tour. The team traveled for 10 days throughout Europe, playing 6 games in Spain and the Netherlands. BYU compiled a 4-1-1 record, with games in Spain against Vallecas CF, Rayo Vallecano reserves, and FC Barcelona reserves, and in the Netherlands against FC Sittard and Minor Nuth. In 2002, they spent 6 days in Pachuca and Mexico City playing 4 games against the various reserve teams of C.F. Pachuca and Cruz Azul, compiling a 2-2 record.
Paralleling their efforts to increase the level of competition, BYU left the collegiate club division of soccer, and purchased a Premier Development League franchise, where they began play in May 2003. Part of the United Soccer Leagues, this league provides the year round competition necessary to develop individual and team skills that in hand will better prepare them for success in their international travels. BYU is the only University sponsored soccer program to ever purchase a franchise and compete at a level considered higher than NCAA soccer in the pyramid of U.S. soccer development.
Joining the PDL
Their first season in the PDL saw BYU in the Southwest division, competing against traditionally strong southern California sides such as Orange County Blue Star and Southern California Seahorses. Despite a 3-0 victory over Nevada Wonders in their first game, BYU's first season was a difficult one, and saw them pick up just one more victory all year, 2-1 over intra-divisional rivals Boulder Rapids Reserve in early July which featured goals by Matthew Affleck and Christopher Lamb. The Cougars ended their freshman year in a distant 4th place, 35 points behind eventual champions Fresno Fuego.
2004 was an improvement for the college men, but the strength of their opposition remained an unmovable obstacle. Despite picking up 8 wins in a competitive season, the Cougars still finished their year in 4th place behind Orange County, Southern California and Fresno; the highlights were a quartet of impressive wins - 6-2 over Colorado Springs Blizzard, 5-0 over California Gold, 4-0 over Nevada Wonders and 4-3 over Fresno Fuego - all of which were enlivened by goals from Matthew Affleck, Christopher Lamb and B. J. Pugmire.
2005 was much of the same, as BYU remained the Southwest 'best of the rest' behind Blue Star, the Seahorses and Fuego. 8 wins in 16 games was a decent return, enough to leave them in fourth place for the second season in a row, and the Cougars' home form was certainly impressive, including a 6-2 thrashing of Colorado Springs Blizzard and a final day 4-0 victory over San Diego Gauchos. Yet again Christopher Lamb was BYU's top marksman with 7 goals and 5 assists on the season, while midfielders Brock Trejo and Brazil-born Gilbert Gaertner were also influential with 5 assists each.
BYU realigned to the Northwest division in 2006 and, with the 'big three' finally out of the way, the Cougars finally began to see success. Five wins in their first six games took them to the US Open Cup for the first time in their history, and although they were comprehensively beaten 5-1 by Arizona Sahuaros in the first round, it was indicative of BYU's newfound status as a regional power. The rest of the season progressed accordingly, highlighted by a dominant 4-0 win over Cascade Surge in June, and despite a late-season stutter which saw them lose their final three regular season games, they finished a strong second in the league, 2 points behind champions Abbotsford Rangers, and were headed for the playoffs for the first time. BYU won their conference semi-final against Southern California Seahorses 2-1, with goals from David Clark and Jacob Cavanaugh, and only lost the conference final to Orange County Blue Star on penalties, after scoring two goals in the final 4 minutes to tie 2-2 in regulation time. It was a much more impressive season for the Cougars, anchored by 7 goals from striker Brock Trejo and three assists from Jacob Cavanaugh.
2007 was the most dominant season yet for the Cougars. Four wins in their first five games took them to the US Open Cup for the second year in a row, although they again lost their opening game, going down 2-1 to strong opposition in the form of USL-1 franchise California Victory. BYU's loss to Tacoma Tide in the second game of the year turned out to be their only loss of the season; they were unbeaten at home the entire year, and enjoyed a number of comprehensive victories over their opponents, putting 6 past Tacoma Tide in June, and hitting Ogden Outlaws for six in early July. The Cougars qualified for the post-season playoff with ease, wrapping up their first divisional title by mid-July, and finishing nine points clear of second place Tacoma Tide. BYU overcame the San Fernando Valley Quakes in their playoff-semi final in front of almost 3,000 fans in Fresno, but were bested in the Conference final by the impressive Fresno Fuego. Steven Fellows (7), Zachary De Francis (6) and Tyson Miller (5) scored 18 of BYU's 37 goals between them.
BYU began 2008 as defending divisional champions, and got off to the best possible start with a comprehensive 5-1 home victory over Cascade Surge in the season opener. They followed this up with a satisfactory 2-1 home win over Spokane Spiders, but following this auspicious beginning, began to lose their way somewhat. They won just one of their next six games, 2-1 over Yakima Reds, and suffered a tough 4-1 loss to newcomers Vancouver Whitecaps Residency in the middle of the stretch; and while Tacoma, Vancouver and Yakima stretched out at the top of the division, BYU found themselves constantly playing catchup. A pair of wins over Utah neighbors Ogden Outlaws briefly raised spirits somewhat, but by the final round of matches they had already been eliminated from playoff contention. A 1-1 tie with Abbotsford Mariners on the final day of the season compounded the disappointment, and the Cougars finished a distant fourth in the standings, 10 points off the playoff spots. Zachary De Francis proved to be BYU's most potent striker, with 8 goals for the season.
BYU realigned to the Southwest Division in 2009 following the PDL expansion in the Pacific Northwest, and won their opening game 1-0 over the Lancaster Rattlers off a goal by Steven Fellows, but found the early games tough going, winning just one of their next six games (1-0 at home over the Hollywood United Hitmen), while suffering a 4-0 defeat in the return fixture against Hollywood in which midfielder B. J. Pugmire ruptured his knee ligaments. BYU's season was literally one of two halves - the first spent mainly on the road, the second at home in Provo - and their home form was impressive. They won four of their last six regular season games, including an impressive 3-0 victory over Bakersfield Brigade, but concluded with a disappointing 3-3 tie with the Lancaster Rattlers. In the end, BYU's spotty early season form cost them dearly, and they ultimately finished fourth in the table, three points out of the playoffs. Steven Fellows and Richie Bindrup were the Cougars' top scorers, with 5 goals and 4 goals respectively.
BYU's tough time in the Southwest continued in 2010, a season in which the Cougars won just four games, twice over the Southern California Seahorses and twice against their Utah rivals Ogden Outlaws. The season started promisingly with a 2-2 tie with Orange County Blue Star, in which they came back from an early 2-0 deficit, but they lost their next three games on the bounce, and didn't pick up their first victory of the season until the last week of may, 2-0 over the Seahorses. BYU were competitive all season, with most games being close 2-1 or 3-1 decisions (their heaviest defeat of the season was a 3-0 loss to the Hollywood United Hitmen), but the Cougar's inability to hold onto leads proved costly: they dropped points against Lancaster Rattlers from a winning position, and conceded an injury time penalty kick in their 2-1 loss to Fresno Fuego. Despite an impressive 3-1 win over Ogden in their final regular season game, BYU finished a distant 8th in the standings, 20 points behind divisional champs Ventura County Fusion. Antonio Niccoli was the team's top scorer, with 4 goals.
As of June 9, 2013.
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
|Year||Division||League||Regular Season||Playoffs||Open Cup|
|2003||4||USL PDL||4th, Southwest||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2004||4||USL PDL||4th, Southwest||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2005||4||USL PDL||4th, Southwest||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2006||4||USL PDL||2nd, Northwest||Conference Finals||1st Round|
|2007||4||USL PDL||1st, Northwest||Conference Finals||1st Round|
|2008||4||USL PDL||4th, Northwest||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2009||4||USL PDL||4th, Southwest||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2010||4||USL PDL||8th, Southwest||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2011||4||USL PDL||5th, Southwest||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2012||4||USL PDL||6th, Southwest||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2013||4||USL PDL||4th, Southwest||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2014||4||USL PDL||2nd, Mountain||Conference Playoffs||Did not qualify|
|2015||4||USL PDL||5th, Mountain||Did not qualify||1st Round|
|2016||4||USL PDL||4th, Central Pacific||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
|2017||4||USL PDL||4th, Mountain||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
- USL PDL Northwest Division Champions 2007
- Brandon Gilliam (2015–present)
Attendance stats are calculated by averaging each team's self-reported home attendances from the historical match archive at https://web.archive.org/web/20100105175057/http://www.uslsoccer.com/history/index_E.html.
- 2005: 378
- 2006: 414
- 2007: 525
- 2008: 587
- 2009: 603
- 2010: 858
- 2011: 662 (No info for July 2 game)
- 2012: 879 (No info for June 15 game)
- 2013: 1136
- 2014: 1888
- 2015: 743