OREM, Utah -- With a second straight Great West Conference regular season championship already in tow, the Utah Valley University women's soccer team looks to add a second consecutive tournament championship when it hosts the GWC women's soccer tournament this weekend. The tournament, played entirely at UVU's Clyde Field, begins Saturday with NJIT vs. Howard at 4 p.m.
As the top seed in the tournament, the Wolverines (7-11-1, 5-0-0 GWC) have earned a bye into the semifinals. They will play their opening match Sunday at 7 p.m. against the winner of the Delaware State-South Carolina State match Saturday night.
The championships were originally slated to begin Friday, Nov. 2, but were pushed to Saturday due to Hurricane Sandy's effect on the travel plans of the GWC's East Coast schools.
UVU, which won its second GWC Tournament title last year in Newark, comes into the postseason six of its last seven matches. In that span, the Wolverines have outscored opponents 15-2 and swept through all five conference matches.
In the regular season finale held Monday in Orem, UVU sealed its conference mark with a 5-0 win over Delaware State. The Wolverines got two goals and two assists from senior Regan Benson, a goal and two assists from junior Natalie Baker, and another goal and assist from sophomore Kim Stratford.
Benson's big night earned her conference Player of the Week honors and pushed her to the top of the league in both total goals scored (9) and total points (22). Also entering the weekend in good form are Baker (four season goals, two assists), midfielders Lexi Robison and Haley Curtis (three goals apiece) and defenders Kelsey Cook and Lexi Dunn (3 assists each).
Junior goalkeeper Lauren Sack has allowed just one goal to GWC competition this season and enters the weekend with 70 saves and a 1.41 goals against average.
The Wolverines, who need just one win to reach the tournament final, sit opposite in the bracket from second-seeded Houston Baptist, No. 3 NJIT and No. 6 Howard. Houston Baptist also clinched a bye to the semifinals with a 4-1-0 conference mark.
Other notable performers entering the tournament include:
• HBU goalkeeper Shelby Horn, who has earned four GWC Player of the Week honors this season and owns a tidy 0.97 goals against average;
• Forward Gechi Ukaegbu of NJIT whose seven points lead the Highlanders;Comment on this story
• DSU goalkeeper Katelyn Koslosky who ranks second in the league in saves per game (7.25) and is second all-time in Hornet history in saves;
• SCSU's Blanca Barrio, who leads the conference in assists (6) and is fifth in goals (5);
• and Howard's Retha Koeford whose six goals are good for fourth in the GWC.
The 2012 All-Conference teams will be announced Friday. UVU's Benson, Baker, Dunn, Sack and Cook were all named to the All-Conference teams in 2011, with Baker and Sack claiming Player of the Year honors.
Kellen Hiser is sports information assistant at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.