BYU Cougars men's soccer

BYU Cougars men’s soccer is an American soccer team based in Provo, Utah, United States. The club has won seven NIRSA national championships, and it is the only university sponsored soccer program to have ever purchased a franchise, competing in the Premier Development League (now known as USL League Two) from 2003 to 2017. It has since returned to club competition, and the team plays its home games at The Stadium at South Field on the campus of Brigham Young University. The team's colors are dark blue and white.

BYU Cougars men’s soccer
Full nameBrigham Young University Cougars
Nickname(s)Cougars
Founded2003 (2003)
StadiumThe Stadium at South Field
Provo, Utah
Capacity4,200
Head CoachBrandon Gilliam
WebsiteClub website

History

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.[1]

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 in Europe and South America. Gerzeli became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 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 BYU installed new coach Shavji “Jim” Dusara, who had served as head coach of the national soccer team of Tanzania during Olympic qualifying in 1968 and 1972. Dusara continued the trend of building BYU soccer with players from foreign countries, 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. Then known as the “SoccerCats”, the team showed well in their first season, defeating rival Utah 3-0 and eventually finishing in second place in the WAC tournament. Dusara guided the team as head coach until 1987, when he was controversially dismissed by BYU’s athletic administration, and the men’s soccer program was dropped from NCAA status.[2]

With the end of NCAA competition, BYU's men's soccer team found significant success at the club level. They dominated the Collegiate Club Soccer Championships (NIRSA)[3] for a decade, winning national championships in 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2001, including an unprecedented run of 30 straight victories at the Club National Championships.

In 2001, BYU 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 franchise in the Premier Development League (now known as USL League Two), 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. 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, but BYU finished 4th the following two years. In 2006, BYU realigned to the Northwest division in 2006, and qualified for their first US Open Cup and their first playoffs. In 2007, the Cougars won their first divisional title, but the following year the team fell back to 4th place. BYU realigned to the PDL's Southwest Division in 2009 following the league's expansion in the Pacific Northwest, and they finished fourth in the table, three points out of the playoffs. BYU's tough time in the Southwest continued in 2010, a season in which the Cougars won just four games.

In 2017, it was announced that the team would leave the PDL after 15 seasons to return to club status,[4] and the club finished the season with its sixth NIRSA National Championship.[5] On November 23, 2019, the Cougars won their seventh NIRSA National Championship following a 3-1 win over Ohio State.[6][7]

Honors

NIRSA

  • 1996 National Champions
  • 1997 National Champions
  • 1998 National Champions
  • 1999 National Champions
  • 2001 National Champions
  • 2017 National Champions
  • 2019 National Champions

United Soccer League

  • 2007 PDL Northwest Division Champions

Head coaches

  • Bruno Gerzeli (1968-1974)
  • Jim Dusara (1974-1987)
  • Chris Watkins (1995–2015)
  • Brandon Gilliam (2015–present)

Stadium

References

  1. https://www.utahsoccer.org/filemanager/sitefiles/history/HistoryOfSoccerInUtah.pdf
  2. "IT'S NOT EASY BEING AN ASPIRING SOCCER PLAYER IN UTAH THESE DAYS". DeseretNews.com. 1989-05-27. Retrieved 2018-06-01.
  3. "Men's soccer to defend title at national tournament - The Daily Universe". The Daily Universe. 1998-11-17. Retrieved 2018-06-01.
  4. "Cougars Return to Collegiate Club Status". BYU Athletics. September 14, 2017. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  5. "NIRSA 2019 Program Booklett" (PDF). NIRSA. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  6. "BYU claims victory with a 3-1 win over OSU in a fight to the finish for their 7th National Title". Official NIRSA Twitter Feed. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  7. "BYU men's soccer wins NIRSA Club National Championship". Vanquish The Foe. Retrieved November 25, 2019.
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