Avery Ford and the Utes open the 2012 regular season Friday against Utah State at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Aug. 13, 2012
Match-up: Utah (0-0-0) vs. Utah State (0-0-0)
Date: Friday, Aug. 17
Kickoff: 7 p.m. MT
Location: Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, Utah
News and Notes
This Week's Action
The University of Utah women's soccer team (0-0-0) kicks off the regular season Friday against Utah State at 7 p.m. MT. The game will be played at Rio Tinto Stadium, home of Real Salt Lake of the MLS.
Utes Return Eight Starters, Look to Replace Key Players Utah brings back 17 returning letterwinners and redshirts from last year's squad, including eight starters. The team lost four key players to graduation, all of whom were staples of the Ute starting lineup throughout their careers. Center backs Lauren Dudley and Lauren Porter combined to start 164 of 166 games through four years on the back line. Forward Erin Dalley was the team's leading scorer in 2009 and 2011 and goalkeeper Hannah Turpen finished her career in fourth on Utah's all-time saves list.
Utah Welcomes 11 Newcomers
The Utes will look to integrate 11 newcomers into this year's squad, including nine true freshmen, a sophomore walk-on and a redshirt-freshman transfer from Wake Forest. Despite being a young team once again, the Utes should enjoy more depth at most positions than they have had in recent years. Several newcomers will be pushing for starting spots as well, considering the talent level of this year's incoming class.
Finding the Back of the Net
One of the challenges for Utah coming into this season is replacing Dalley's team-leading seven goals, which included three game winners. With several Utes contributing goals but no one else rising to the level of a dynamic scoring threat last year, junior midfielder Harley Spier is the top returning career goal scorer with three. The youthful Utes hope to figure out early who will be the go-to goal scorer for this season and years to come.
Scouting this Weekend's Opposition
Utah State Aggies
The Aggies enter the 2012 season with aspirations of repeating as Western Athletic Conference champions. Last year, USU posted a 15-5-2 record, going 5-1-1 in the WAC, capturing the regular season title, followed by the WAC tournament championship as well. The Aggies then appeared in the NCAA Tournament, falling at Auburn in the first round, 2-1.
Utah State returns seven starters, including junior midfielder Kendra Pemberton, the team's top returning scorer. Pemberton tallied seven goals and nine assists for 23 points last year. The Aggies will need to replace WAC Offensive Player of the Year Shantel Flanary, who graduated after tallying 85 career points on 34 goals and 17 assists.
Defensively, USU needs to account for the loss of graduated goalkeeper Molly Merrill, the WAC Tournament MVP, who posted a career goals-against-average of 0.81 and made 221 career saves.
Utah State is coached by Heather Cairns, now in her 10 year at the helm for the Aggies. She holds a career record of 90-75-19 (.541).
Utah is 11-3-0 all-time against Utah State. They have only faced each other on neutral soil one other time, with the Aggies winning a 2-1 contest in overtime at Rio Tinto Stadium in 2009. Utah boasts a perfect 7-0 record at home against the Aggies. The Utes are 4-2 on USU's home turf in Logan, however Utah State won the last matchup there by a 1-0 tally last year.
Fans can listen to a live audio stream of all Utah women's soccer home games, with play-by-play from Gavin McCallister. Additionally, this week's game will be carried live from Rio Tinto Stadium. The live stream can be accessed at http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/utah.portal#.
Utes Fall in Preseason Exhibition, 1-0
Utah played a pre-season neutral-site scrimmage against Texas Tech on Saturday, falling 1-0. Following the game, head coach Rich Manning offered the following thoughts on his team's performance and what he hopes to take away from the game:
"Overall, I was pleased with the game. We have so many new players this year and so many players coming back off of injuries that needed experience, it was good to get an extra game in, I think it will be very beneficial for everyone. Hopefully it pays dividends early in the season. I thought our fitness level and athleticsim were very good. It was a good chance to get a lot of players some experience and now we have to allow their soccer to come through as they learn. We will take the lessons from last weekend and use them to get ready for Friday."
"I thought we defended with a lot of tenacity in the defenseive third. Offensively, we created a few chances. We defended set pieces well and we haven't worked much on attacking set pieces yet, but we were okay there as well. We will work on that this week. We need to adjust a few things and be more dangerous around the goal, but I thought we passed the ball very well."
Seven Utah Games to be Televised Live on Pac-12 Networks
The Utes will appear live on Pac-12 Networks seven times this year. Their first televised game will be the Aug. 25 rivalry match against BYU, slated for 1 p.m. at Ute Field. Other scheduled televised games include: Sept. 28 vs. Washington State, Oct. 5 vs. Stanford, Oct. 12 vs. Oregon, Oct. 19 at USC, Oct. 25 at Arizona State and Nov. 2 at Colorado.
Fans can learn more about the Pac-12 Networks by watching this video and can see if they will get Pac-12 Networks from their TV provider by visiting the Pac-12 Networks Channel Finder at http://www.pac-12.org/SPORTS/Pac12Networks/ChannelFinder.aspx.
The link contains an option to email satellite providers DirecTV and Dish using the subject line "I Want Pac-12 Networks." Fans are also encouraged to make their voices heard to the satellite companies via Twitter (using the handles @DirecTV and @Dish and the hashtag #IWantPac12Networks) and Facebook. Questions that aren't answered in the Pac-12 Networks FAQ can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Defending NCAA champion Stanford was the clear preseason favorite in the Pac-12 Preseason Coaches Poll, leading the voting with 120 points and receiving 10 out of 12 first-place votes. The rest of the field, in order: 2. UCLA (111); 3. California (93); 4. Oregon State (86); 5. Washington (75); 6. Arizona State (70); 7. USC (66); t8. Utah (49); t8. Washington State (49); 10. Oregon (36); 11. Colorado (25); 12. Arizona (12).
Get Your 2012 Utah Soccer Season Ticket Scarf!
There's still plenty of time! Get yours for Senior Night or even after the season is over. Show your support for Utah Soccer and all of Utah's athletic teams by calling 801-581-UTIX or visit www.UtahUtes.com.