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UVU soccer: Utah Valley opens season at Hawaii on Friday night

Tori Smith runs with the ball from defenders. Smith returns for her senior season after recording one goal and two assists last season, while Utah Valley opens its season at Hawaii on Friday night.
Tori Smith runs with the ball from defenders. Smith returns for her senior season after recording one goal and two assists last season, while Utah Valley opens its season at Hawaii on Friday night.
Jay Drowns, UVU Athletics

The Utah Valley University women's soccer team opens the 2017 season this week at the OHANA Outrigger Shootout in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Wolverines open the season at Hawaii on Friday before playing Houston Baptist.

Utah Valley returns 19 letterwinners and seven starters from its 2016 squad, including first-team All-WAC honoree Breanna DeWaal. DeWaal is back for her sophomore campaign after leading the Wolverines and the WAC with 67 shots last year. She also led UVU with 23 shots on goal last season and ranked second on the team in goals scored (four) and assists (four).

Alexis Peterson, who led the Wolverines with five goals last year, returns for her senior season. She also led the team with a .737 shots on goal percentage. In all, UVU returns nearly 70 percent of its scoring from last season as the Wolverines return 10 players who accounted for 23 of their 34 goals in 2016.

The Wolverines also welcome back Brooklyn Nielsen in goal for her sophomore season. Nielsen played in 16 matches for UVU in the box last season, compiling a 7-4-2 record with five shutouts, 49 saves and a 1.02 goals allowed average. Her five shutouts led the WAC last season.

Utah Valley welcomes eight newcomers to this year's squad, including Florida State transfer Doriana Moul. Moul, a sophomore midfielder, played in nine games and made two starts for the Seminoles last season before being sidelined by injury. She recorded three shots, including one on goal, for the former national champions. The Wolverines also welcome in a signing class of six freshmen to the squad.

Hawai'i opens its home slate after going an impressive 7-1-2 at home last year. The Rainbow Wahine are coming off their best season since 2007, going 9-6-2 in 2016. Hawai'i returns five of its top-six point-scorers from 2016, including points leader Raisa Strom-Okimoto who tallied 20 points on six goals and eight assists last season. Since joining the Big West in 2012, Hawai'i is still looking to qualify for its first Big West Conference tournament.

Utah Valley and Hawaii meet on the pitch for just the third time on Friday evening. UH holds an all-time 3-0-0 record against the Wolverines, including a 2-0-0 all-time mark against UVU in Honolulu. The 'Bows defeated UVU, 1-0, in the two team's lone match in Orem in 2015.

Houston Baptist opens its 2017 slate against Fairfield on Friday in the OHANA Outriggers Shootout in Hawaii. The team will then take on the Wolverines on Sunday. The Huskies played a pair of exhibition matches, drawing with St. Thomas, 2-2, before falling to Hawaii, 3-0. The Huskies welcome back seven starters and 14 letterwinners from their 2016 team that went 10-11-1 and won the Southland Tournament. The win at the Southland Tournament earned the team its second-ever NCAA bid.

Utah Valley and Houston Baptist meet on the pitch for the 11th time on Sunday night. UVU holds an all-time 6-3-1 advantage over the Huskies. The two teams match up on a neutral site for the fourth time with UVU holding an all-time 2-1-0 neutral site advantage.

Utah Valley is on the road for nearly a month before opening its home slate at Clyde Field on Sept. 8, against Wyoming. UVU will play six road matches before making its Clyde Field debut. Following its two matches in Hawaii, Utah Valley travels to play UNLV and CSUN on Aug. 25 and 27, respectively.

Friday's match at Hawaii kicks off at 11 p.m. MT. Sunday's match kicks off at 6:30 p.m.

Jason Erickson works in the communications office at the Utah Valley University athletic department. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.