Soccer seniors celebrate final home game

Utah and Wyoming are both fighting for the Mountain West Crown, and the two teams will face off this Saturday at 3 p.m. at Ute Field.

Although Wyoming (9-7, 4 1) lost Thursday night 5-1 to BYU in Provo, the game will still carry high stakes for both the Cowgirls and the Utes (13-2, 4-0).

“As of today, this is the biggest game of the year,” coach Rich Manning said. “There’s first place at stake and it will set us up to achieve one of the biggest goals of the season.”

The goal Manning speaks of is to go undefeated in the MWC, which would include consecutive wins in their last two games: this Saturday against Wyoming and next Saturday at BYU.

Another goal that the Utes look to achieve on Saturday is an undefeated home record. They are currently 7-0 at Ute Field, and a win against Wyoming would continue their home unbeaten streak heading into the MWC Tournament, which the Utes will be hosting.

As if the Utes needed any more incentive to beat Wyoming, it will be Senior Day at Ute Field. All seven of the Ute seniors will be playing in their final regular season home game. There will be a short ceremony before the game to honor the seniors and their parents.

While this might lead to mixed emotions for the seniors on Saturday, they’re all focused on one thing.

“I want to win,” Genny Grimm said. “I don’t know how else to put it.”

The rest of the seniors echoed the sentiment as they discussed the many things that were at stake, including the fact that they have never lost to Wyoming (6-0 all time). Despite this fact, senior Bobbie Benegas knows that this year’s Wyoming team will not be the pushover it has been in the past.

“They’re hard workers, really physical and they’ve been together for a long time, so that might be why they’re having such a good year,” she said.

Benegas should know Wyoming pretty well, having played with many of the Cowgirl seniors in high school and having played against them four times with the Utes. Manning likens the Cowgirls to several other teams in the conference because of their ability to defend well and take advantage of their opportunities.

The integral part of their tough defense is goalkeeper Lori Scheider, who has been named MWC defensive player of the week for two-straight weeks. She also leads the MWC in saves (108), saves per game (7.71) and shutouts (6).

It must be said, however, that between BYU and Utah, Scheider will see the MWC’s first- and second-ranked offenses over a span of three days. According to statistics, Scheider should see 33.76 shots in the two games, and that’s a lot for any goalkeeper, even for one who only allows 1.07 goals per game.

While these stats might seem interesting to most fans, Manning was more concerned with what was on the line for his team on Saturday. He outlined several goals at the beginning of the season, and three of those goals are on the line tomorrow. While Manning certainly wants to win the conference and go undefeated at home, he seems equally concerned with sending off his seniors on a positive note.

“I’m really excited about how the past two seasons have gone for those girls,” he said. “They’ve made a big difference in the program and I want them to be able to finish on a strong note.”

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