Janie Kearl (05) goes headed to head against Erika Okuma (27) during the Utah Utes Women's soccer tie game versus University of Southern California at Ute Soccer Field in Salt Lake City, UT on Saturday, September 23, 2017. (Photo by Cassandra Palor/ Daily Utah Chronicle)

Still in the midst of their 2018 preseason, the University of Utah women’s soccer team is heading into their first two away games for the fall.  

The Utes are currently holding at a 1-1 record from their first two regular-season games against Minnesota and Weber State.

Utah suffered a tough loss against Minnesota in the final seconds of the game, to fall 1-0 for their first loss of the season. Utah earned a 2-0 win against Weber State, with goals from Paola van der Veen and Ireland Dunn.

“I was really pleased with our intensity and effort and aggressiveness on the field in these first few games,” Head Coach Rich Manning said. “Our defense was really good this weekend.  Early in the season, there are always some things to smooth out, but it is good to see the team looking so aggressive and intense. It is a good sign for the rest of the season.”

Manning has been with this team for 17 seasons and believes that this year’s team has the ability to do great things for 2018.  This returning team has seven familiar faces, as well as a lot of new talent, and this combination will be powerful for the Utes.

Manning and the rest of the coaching staff are stressing the importance of a positive mindset to help the girls on the team stay up and be aggressive in all of their play.

Utah is coming off of a low 2017 season, where they ended 5-11-3 on the season, with no victories in Pac-12 conference play. This year, the girls are ready to come out strong and win some key games in the preseason.

“I think this year it feels like we have a lot more energy. Last year we came off of a very successful season and that didn’t help us too much,” senior forward Max Flom. “I just think we were a little too comfortable, and we weren’t as feisty. I think we learned from last season that we can’t rest, and we are ready to prove ourselves.  We are a young team, and that should help us to a successful season.”

This weekend, the Utes will go on the road to compete against a local school, Utah State, in Logan, as well as UC Irvine in Southern California. These are both non-conference games for the Utes.

Hailey Stodden, a freshman defender from Broomfield, Colorado, is already making her mark on the team, and she saw some time during the Minnesota game. She is confident in the skills of the team for this season, and she is looking forward to the rest of preseason and Pac-12 conference play.

“I’d say that our closeness and our willingness to work for each other is really powerful and will really help us throughout the rest of the season,” said Stodden. “I’m looking forward to being a part of the team and playing alongside everyone and hopefully making a run for the postseason.”

The new team members have now been a part of the team for a handful of games, and they are already starting to make their mark on the program. Flom is already impressed with the hard work and dedication that the new players have shown both on and off of the field.  

Kick off for game one was at 4 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 24 in Logan, Utah. Game two will be played in Irvine, California and will begin at 2 p.m. PT on Sunday, Aug. 26.

c.overfield@dailyutahchronicle.com

@CaseyOverfield

Casey Overfield
Casey Overfield is a freshman at the University of Utah. This is her first year as a sports writer for the Chronicle, where she hopes to learn more about sports at the university and improve her skills as a writer. Casey is also a member of the Pride of Utah marching band.

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