After suffering their first loss to Stanford over the weekend, Utah soccer will be taking on No. 4 USC and No. 9 UCLA at Ute Field this Thursday, Oct. 27 and Sunday, Oct. 30.
Head coach Rich Manning feels that the team is recovering very well after a long travel weekend. He thinks the team is a really strong-minded group and they understand that defeat is part of the deal being in the Pac-12. Having setbacks is common, but what the most important thing the team needs to do is move on and get ready to play the next games.
“I do think it is that time of the year where we have to be careful of the players and the staff of being fatigued,” Manning said. “It’s that time of the season where legs get a little heavy so we are trying to be mindful of that in our preparation this week. But at the end of the day, they just have to go out there and do it — get out there and push. I think the team will be ready.”
Freshman Holly Daugirda said that while her team wasn’t happy about the loss, they have accepted the fact that it happens and they are ready to move on to this week. They are also ready to apply what they learned from the games last week.
“We are all just excited for this coming weekend,” Daugirda said. “We are taking what we learned from this past weekend, and we are just going to apply it to our next games. It was a good learning experience, so we need to be aggressive and go out with that mindset that we can do this and we have the potential to beat these teams.”
The Utes haven’t won 11 games in a season since 2008. They are hoping to find that win against the Southern California teams. Also, the Utes are looking to break their record of six conference wins, which hasn’t been done since 2013. The Utes have not beaten a Pac-12 team ranked in the top 25 since beating Oregon State in 2011.
But in order to do that, Manning said when his team is playing the top level teams in the conference, it is important for his team attack from the get go.
“They have to be aggressive on the outside,” Manning said. “I think that is something we took from last weekend, and I think we can improve a couple of things on both offense and defense. We are hoping to create a few more chances and also, do a better job defending our goal.”
Thursday’s game against USC will be the annual blackout with kickoff set to begin at 7:00 p.m., and on Sunday’s game against UCLA, all the seniors will be celebrated before kickoff at 2:00 p.m.