Mike Terry, Deseret Morning News
BYU's Amanda Draeger, left, battles Utah's Kelly Isleib in early-season game.

PROVO — When the BYU women's soccer team dropped a 1-0 double-overtime heartbreaker to UNLV in last weekend's Mountain West Conference finale, the Cougars failed to claim their first regular-season championship in five seasons.

Ah, but another title opportunity has boomeranged its way back as BYU plays host to this week's MWC tournament at South Field.

However, the Cougars will need to be better at breaking trends and rewriting history this time.

BYU can claim its first conference tournament title in five years — but will need to win its first postseason match in four years.

Ranked 23rd nationally by Soccer Times, the Cougars (14-3-2) open tournament play today at 4 p.m. against TCU (8-10-0), a team it spanked 4-1 last month in its season-best scoring effort.

A preseason co-favorite with Utah, BYU enters as the No. 3 seed. Besides home-pitch advantage, BYU's bracket is favorable — a win in Wednesday's quarterfinals means a chance to avenge a 2-0 loss to No. 2 seed San Diego State.

On the bracket's other side, Utah hopes to reverse last week's upset at Wyoming and advance to Thursday's semifinals to face regular-season champ UNLV.

After clean-sweeping all Mountain West regular-season and tournament titles from 1999 to 2002, championships have been hard to come by for BYU.

So have tournament victories.

The Cougars last won a MWC tourney match in 2003 — also in Provo — by beating New Mexico in the 2003 semifinals.

Since then, it's been historic hard luck — a first-ever loss to Utah in the '03 championship match, a first-ever loss to Air Force in '04 and a loss to SDSU in the '05 tournament.

And in last year's semifinals, BYU settled for a 0-0 double-overtime draw with UNLV, a team the Cougars had beaten in all 10 previous meetings. However, the Rebels outscored the Cougars on penalty kicks to advance.

An aside: BYU is a perfect 5-0 against TCU coming into Wednesday's quarterfinal.

Boasting a defense ranked in the nation's top eight in goals against, shutout percentage and saves percentage, the Cougars will need to kickstart their scoring again.

BYU has logged 12 shutouts this season and only eight goals total — but has managed only 23 of its own in 19 matches.

That includes getting shut out five times, including three league losses against Utah, SDSU and UNLV.

E-mail: [email protected]