The Cougars’ five fall sports programs are feeling the SoCal heat wave and carrying that out into their new seasons with some hot starts. 

There are some big expectations for the APU athletic programs and the Cougars are most certainly staying cool under the pressure. 

Here is a look at how the five fall sports programs have started out their new seasons so far. 

Men’s Soccer

Head Coach (HC) of the Cougars Men’s Soccer team, Dave Blomquist, returns for his 14th season and is just 28 wins shy of becoming the program’s all-time ‘wins’ leader. The 2022 squad was predicted to win yet another PacWest Conference title, and the preseason favorites received 114 first-place votes by the other PacWest Head Coaches. This could potentially be the Cougars’ 4th straight conference championship, keeping in mind there was no 2020 season due to COVID-19. 

“Our roster is a mix of experienced returners and exciting newcomers, so we are continuing to see the development of the team as our chemistry grows,” said HC Blomquist.

The team features key returners like PacWest Preseason POTY (Player of the Year), Gregoire Diep, as well as veteran Center Back, Joseph Macpherson. The Cougars also feature a couple of new faces in the squad like Forward Tim Siegfried and Midfielder, Musa Yansaneh, who help to bolster the Starting XI and the team’s hopes of earning yet another conference title. 

The expectations and preseason accolades are something that the men’s team is used to, these things hold little to no value for Coach Blomquist and his players. 

“With all due respect to the coaches and the PacWest conference who make these predictions, they mean absolutely nothing to us and we do not let it affect how our team performs … we know what we must do on the pitch,” said the defenseman Macpherson. 

The Cougars have started the season with two wins, two losses and a draw, with many games still left on the team’s schedule. The team has faced ranked opponents early on and it has been a difficult test for this squad. Some notable games remaining include Sept. 24th at home against Point Loma and Oct. 19th at home against Biola.

Women’s Soccer

“Coaches have missed where we will finish for the past three years and I’m sure this year will be the same,” said the Cougar Women’s Soccer Head Coach Brooke Lincoln.

Lincoln is looking forward to proving the doubters and prediction polls wrong for a fourth straight season. It’s Coach Lincoln’s fourth season at the university and her program has improved each and every year so far. The Lady Cougars were predicted to finish fourth in the PacWest Conference, but with a team full of talented players, there is much to look forward to for this squad. 

With the strong backline of Mackenzie Coleman and Gianna Ocello as well as a talented front three of Brooke Bern, Bethany Tee and Freshman Aubrey Dunaway, these are just a few of the many talented players that feature on such a deep roster. 

Like the men’s team, the women’s team has also started the season off strong with two wins and two draws. This APU Cougar Women’s Soccer Team has a positive buzz around it, and with the team’s chemistry as high as it is, this could be a real surprise team in the PacWest. 

With well over half the season to go, APU Soccer is one of the highlights of the Cougars’ new athletic season. 

Women’s Volleyball

Cougars Volleyball is underway and Head Coach Chris Keife enters his 19th season as he looks to continue his dominance and legacy with this university’s volleyball program. The preseason polls have the Cougars predicted to finish 2nd, but Cougars Volleyball is used to winning and being nationally ranked. Coach Keife and his girls wrapped up their pre-conference invitationals and performances and went 4-4 through the first eight games. 

With all PacWest games still to go, the meat of the season is now ready to rock. 

“We have a group of returners that have plenty of experience playing in this conference, and more importantly, several have been a part of PacWest championship teams, so they know what it takes to be a top team. Combine that with our newcomers, we have the potential to have a great season,” said HC Keife.

Volleyball is always some of the ZU’s favorite games to attend, so be sure to pack the Felix Event Center this season and watch what this great program will do this fall. 

Key returners who will lead the line are, Kyra Palmbush, Katarina Radisic and preseason ALL-PacWest first team player Annaka Jorgenson

Cross Country

Men’s and women’s cross country are the fourth and fifth fall athletics teams to get underway and chase success for this year. The predictions are a scorcher, much like the other Cougars teams, with the men’s cross country team favored to win the PacWest Conference Title. The men’s team also entered the new season ranked no. 25, which is significant as it is the first nationally ranked men’s cross country team in the university’s history. 

Coach Sean Smith has his second go around with the team this fall and has already made an impact on this program. In 2021, Smith helped push the men’s team to their most successful season in the PacWest, where they finished 2nd at the 2021 PacWest Championships. After making more history for the men’s team in the regionals, where they placed their highest-ever finish in the NCAA, this team is only improving under Smith. 

Smith is also the head of the women’s side of things and his Lady Cougars have already finished 2nd this season during their first meet at the Mark Covert Invitational at Cal State Fullerton. 

Nixon Korir of the men’s team and Justine Stecko of the women’s are just two of a handful of stars on APU’s Cross Country team. Each respective runner has their eyes set on nationals, and Coach Smith’s team’s trend is headed in the direction of having multiple runners from each team able to qualify for that opportunity.