Looking for a steady rhythm

The U soccer team (3-2-1) will finally take Ute Field after a long week of practices when they play Boise State (4-2-0) this Sunday at 1 p.m.

After a shaky beginning, the Utes look to get on track this season, searching for continuity at both ends of the field.

With conference play only five games away, the Utes will have to find their rhythm soon or hopes of defending their conference title could evaporate quickly.

The Utes’ upcoming game against Boise State will provide them with a good measure of their abilities.

“Boise State has gotten off to a very good start,” U head coach Rich Manning said. “Steve Lucas is a good coach and they will be well-organized. We have a great deal of respect for them.”

Boise State started the season with three straight shutout victories, but have since dropped two out of three.

The only common opponent between the Broncos and Utes thus far has been Gonzaga.

The Utes defeated the Bulldogs 2-1 at Ute Field, and the Broncos lost in Spokane by the same score.

The Broncos are a team that the Utes should beat, and how long they remain in the game will be a good indication of the U’s ability to dominate.

The Broncos and Utes have met only once before, in 2000, a game the Utes won 4-1.

If the Utes want to have similar success, they will need to get more production from their offense, which has looked good at times, but is nowhere near as good as it can be, according to Manning.

“I really feel with this year’s team that the sky’s the limit as far as potential is concerned,” Manning said. “I don’t think we’re near our peak, but I think we’re definitely improving.”

Amanda Feigt (2 goals, 1 assist) and Kim Lloyd (1 goal, 3 assists) are the leading scorers for the Utes this season. The duo anchored the group that seems to be on the verge of a breakout performance.

“Kim has been solid in providing us with ball handling and composure in the penalty box,” Manning said.

“And Amanda has really sharpened up, and I think she’s playing better now than she did all of last season,” Manning said.

Another player Manning has been impressed with so far this season is sophomore McKenzie Joyner, who moved from forward to defense this season to fill the void left by all-conference defender Jen Williams.

“I think McKenzie [Joyner] has played very well this year,” Manning said. “I’m really happy with what she’s given us, especially offensively, from that position.”

Joyner has been one of the

lone bright spots on an otherwise inconsistent unit, which recorded 11 shutouts and was one of the nation’s best defensive units last season.

“Our [problems on defense] might be early season rust that we have to work off, but if you boil the problems down to one thing I think it’s a lack of concentration and communication,” Manning said. “Part of the reason that we had so many shutouts last year was good fortune. There were chances in some of those games that the other teams missed.”

Good fortune seems to have also played a part this year, although it is largely the Ute defense providing its opponents with it, and not the other way around.

“The important thing is not that the other team doesn’t score, it’s that we make them score tough goals,” Manning said. “Our biggest area for improvement right now is that we’re giving up soft goals.”

Soft goals were especially problematic last weekend against Colorado and Denver, but Manning is optimistic about the demise of that harmful trend.

“As a group, we have yet to develop the discipline and competitive spirit we will need to become a championship caliber team,” Manning said. “It will be enjoyable to see if we can put it together next Sunday.”

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