Ute soccer returns to Ute Field

By By Tom Quinn

By Tom Quinn

After beating No. 19 Stanford 2-1 last weekend (to go with a 1-0 loss to Santa Clara), the U women’s soccer team has a chance to give the Pac-10 two black eyes to go along with its already bloody nose.

The Utes open their home schedule tonight against Washington State University and will finish up their West Coast slate with a showdown against the Arizona Wildcats Sunday afternoon.

Unlike the teams the Utes faced last weekend in Santa Clara, they already have plenty of experience playing against both the Cougars of WSU and Arizona’s Wildcats, both of whom will be in town for the Utah Fall Classic.

Utah will have history on its side for Friday’s match. The Utes have largely dominated WSU in their previous meetings, boasting a 3-1 edge, overall. The two teams last met in 2004, a game that Utah won 4-1.

The Cougars’ record stands at 1-0-1 following a 2-1 win over UNLV and a scoreless draw with Gonzaga last weekend. Offensive players to watch include junior midfielder Anna Miller and junior forward Brooke Bemis.

Keeper Brynn Bemis, a defensive standout, tallied six saves in the two contests.

Head coach Matt Potter vividly remembers the Cougars’ last trip to Salt Lake City and is determined to avoid a similar outcome.

“Two seasons ago, Utah beat us handily,” Potter said. “They are coming off a great opening weekend, and with their pace and athleticism, they will be a tough match-up for anyone. We will be prepared.”

The Utes, who are always well-prepared, could sweep the Pac-10 portion of their schedule with a win over Arizona on Sunday afternoon but will need a little bit of luck to overcome a team that has had Utah’s placing as of late.

Arizona presently holds a one-game edge on the Utes, leading the all-time series 3-2. The Wildcats posted a 2-0 record against Utah last season, winning once in Tucson on Sept. 16 and again at Ute Field in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

The Wildcats’ opening weekend was a mixed bag: Arizona won 2-1 at Oakland last Friday but fell 1-0 to Michigan in double overtime two days later. Sophomore forward Gianna DeSaverio scored both of the ‘Cats’ goals and keeper Chelsea McIntyre led the defense with 11 stops between the posts.

“Arizona got us twice last year,” said U head coach Rich Manning. “They are replacing some big pieces, but (their coach) is a master of putting the puzzle together. They will be ready to go.”

Soccer America has the Wildcats ranked No. 17 in the nation, and a win against them would go a long way toward putting the Utes on track to win an elusive at-large bid to the NCAA tourney come November.

Kamil Krzaczynski