Following three weeks on the road, the University of Utah soccer team is bringing the action back to Salt Lake as they get ready to host Brigham Young University in the annual Deseret First Duel.
This rivalry game is one of the most talked about in college sports, and it is one that resonates throughout the state of Utah.
“There are a few levels to these rivalry games. One is that it is just a good game. Two is, it’s an important game. Now your players get practice playing in this kind of game with this kind of environment, similar to what they will be experiencing in Pac-12 play and postseason games,” said head coach Rich Manning. “This game is important just for raising awareness for our sport. This is a marquee event, and people who don’t pay attention to our team are going to. We will have a big crowd, and we were on the radio this week. That doesn’t happen all the time, and this is a good opportunity to display what we do.”
Going into this game, the Utes hold a 1-2-1 record, and they are coming off of a weekend in Kansas. They fell 2-1 in double overtime, after holding the lead for much of the game.
Despite a late goal made by Hailey Skolmiski, the Utes were unable to fight back against the Jayhawks’ last-minute goals.
“We need to leave it all on the line every single game. We have this saying that is ‘empty the tank’. Every game, we have to give it our all,” said forward Ireland Dunn. “Last game hit us hard, and I think coming off of that loss, we all understand the saying a little bit more and what we have to do to better ourselves in the future.”
Against BYU, Utah is 7-21-2 and their game last year ended in a 1-1 draw. At home against the Cougars, Utah is 4-9-0, and has won two of the last three matches in Salt Lake City.
The team is working hard in anticipation for Friday’s match, and they are looking forward to a fun and exciting game. This game will provide an opportunity for the team to showcase how hard they have been working so far in the preseason.
“We are just going to enjoy the week,” Manning said. “This is a fun week, it’s one of the best games in college soccer every year, and it’s a great environment, and it’s important that we bring a lot of energy to the game.”
In addition to the school being excited about the game, the players are also ready to compete in this match. With an electric practice atmosphere, there is no doubt they are ready to face the Cougars.
With a large returning squad, many of these players are ready for revenge from last years tie game.
“We haven’t beat BYU in the fall in a long time, and I know how good our team is now. We have really been coming together, and the results haven’t come out how we want them to yet, and I think that after the last game, we all realized that. I think now we are ready to go, and we are all pumped. BYU is the best game for that because there are going to be a lot of people there and we are all excited.”
Kickoff will be 7 pm on Friday, Sept. 7 at the Ute Soccer Field.