No. 18 Utah Valley University heads to Northern California for its final non-conference weekend of the season and the Copa de Causeway with games at Sacramento State and UC Davis. The Wolverines (6-1-0) face Sac State on Thursday at 5 p.m. MT and UC Davis on Saturday at 4 p.m.
Utah Valley's 6-1-0 start matches last season's record after seven matches, and a win on Thursday would mark the best start in the program's short three-year history. The Wolverines have recorded three-consecutive shutouts and have four in their last five matches. UVU ranks 28th in the nation in goals against average, allowing 0.71 per contest.
"Sac State and UC Davis are two well-coached programs with solid results at home," UVU head coach Greg Maas said. "This team, however, is determined to finish non-conference play with two strong performances as we prepare to open WAC play next week in Seattle."
The Wolverines are ranked 18th in the NSCAA Coaches Poll and are also slotted 15th by TopDrawerSoccer.com, 19th by College Soccer News and No. 24 in Soccer America's poll.
UVU won a pair of 1-0 matches last week, defeating then-No. 20 Gonzaga and CSUN in two matches at Clyde Field. Aaron Meyer scored on a free kick in the win over the Bulldogs, while Skyler Milne's header — from Joe Barakat and Karson Payton — served as the game-winner over the Matadors.
Alex Neff was named the WAC Defensive Player of the Week for the fourth time in his career after leading a defense that didn't allow a shot on goal against Gonzaga and just two shots on goal against CSUN.
About the Hornets
Sacramento State is 3-3-0 and currently on a two-match win streak. The Hornets played their first two home games last week and notched wins over Portland, 2-1, and WAC-affiliate San José State, 3-2. Alex Bettencourt has three goals and seven points to lead Sac State offensively. He has scored the game-winning goal in the three wins, which also includes a 1-0 victory at Loyola Marymount.
About the Aggies
UC Davis is the third and final of three-consecutive Big West programs on the Wolverines' schedule and will host Saint Mary's on Thursday. Like Sac State, the Aggies (3-2-2) also defeated Portland, 1-0, last week and also picked up a 3-2 win over CSU Bakersfield. UC Davis has also faced San José State in a season-opening scoreless draw. Kristian Heptner has three goals to lead the Aggies, two of which are game-winners. The Aggies have recorded five shutouts in seven matches this season and rank 32nd nationally in goals against average at 0.81 per game.
Utah Valley will face a stiff test right out of the gate in WAC play when the Wolverines travel to defending champion and preseason favorite Seattle U for a match on Friday, Sept. 30. The following week, UVU hosts CSU Bakersfield and UT Rio Grande Valley in league play.
Clint Burgi is the associate athletic director for communications and marketing at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.