Soccer: As season winds down, seniors prepare for the end

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All that remains for the Utah soccer team is three games before its 2015 regular season comes to an end.

The Utes, who currently sit in 10th place in the Pac-12, hope to get something out of their final games to get a higher place in the standings and better seeding in the Pac-12 tournament.

These final matches at home also have major significance for many of Utah’s players, especially the seniors who will be playing their final games at Ute Field. This year’s seniors include Lindsey Luke, Ali Allen, Nykell Seymour, Megan Trabert, Baylee Nielsen and Kaycee Buckley. For many of these seniors, it’s the end of a long road that began four years ago when they first stepped onto the team as freshmen.

Head coach Rich Manning knows the final games are important for his senior squad and even gathered them together after training on Tuesday to discuss the final chapter in their Utah careers as players. They want to finish with a few wins under their belts.

“We want to make sure that we finish on a high note,” Manning said. “We’ve been playing well and been fighting hard, and I’m really proud of that. What we need is a winning result — a winning performance. Get a couple goals and get a couple home wins. I think that will be the proper way for these guys to finish up their college careers.”

The senior players were an instrumental part of the building process that began in 2010 when Utah joined the Pac-12. Although it has not always been easy, these seniors want to show how great this Utah team can be and convince future commits that playing for the Utes is their best option.

Manning has seen these seniors really help with the transition into a tough conference.

“The seniors have been really important to our team as we transition into the Pac-12,” Manning said. “They have really helped keep things together when it could have fallen apart. Maybe we haven’t been getting the results we’ve wanted this year, but they made sure the team has stuck together through some really tough adversity and has always put the team first.”

The results of signing great players is already happening, including 2014 Utah Gatorade Player of the Year Hailey Skolmoski, who was a solid addition to the Ute’s defense before her season-ending injury. There is also international talent coming to the U in Paola van der Veen.

There are many positives the seniors can take with them after their college careers are done. Goalkeeper Lindsey Luke is slowly accepting that her career is nearing its end.

“It’s starting to hit me a little that my college career is almost over,” said Luke. “Even just yesterday I was thinking I’m just very thankful for the opportunity I was given. I’ve had times where I’ve been really low and times where I’ve been happy, but through it all I don’t have any regrets coming here. I’m just feeling really thankful, and I just want to play the best I can play and finish the season strong.”

Each senior is taking her time to reflect and take everything in before she enters a new phase of her life. It will be bittersweet, but for now they are focused on winning their final three games.

g.hanson@dailyutahchronicle.com

@Twelvegage96

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