U senior Marsh-als Utes’ front line

By By Tom Quinn

By Tom Quinn

To those who don’t follow soccer, two goals in two games might not seem like much. That statistic, however, was good enough to get Utah forward Hailey Marsh the nod as the MWC’s Player of the Week.

Marsh, a senior, tallied two goals against nationally ranked opponents last weekend, helping the Utes to a 4-2 overall record.

The first of Marsh’s two goals came against then-No. 24 Fresno State, a team that had yet to surrender a goal in four games. Marsh made short work of that streak, sealing the victory for the Utes in the 86th minute.

Marsh’s second goal of the weekend was even more spectacular than the first, even if the result wasn’t. Marsh tallied the Utes’ lone goal in their 2-1 loss to visiting Colorado, beating the keeper with a rocket from the top of the box into the upper right corner.

“I still have mixed feelings about that game,” Marsh said. “It was nice to score, but it was still a disappointing loss.”

Regardless of the outcome, Marsh’s breakout performance is certainly worthy of recognition. Her time in the limelight didn’t come easily, giving her the right to milk these 15 minutes of fame for all they’re worth.

Just two weeks ago, Marsh was an afterthought, just one more cog in an already potent Utah attack. Her strong sophomore season had long been forgotten, engulfed by memories of the slump that she endured last year as a junior.

A series of injuries in 2005 kept her on the sidelines more often than she would have liked, and lingering pain slowed her significantly when she was on it. Her performances were erratic, alternating between lackluster and brilliant.

“I didn’t feel good all last year,” Marsh said. “Coach Manning said that he could tell how I was feeling physically just by watching me play.”

Not only was Marsh fighting to stay healthy, she was also desperate to live up to the expectations that her standout sophomore campaign had created for her.

“I think that I put way too much pressure on myself,” Marsh said. “As an athlete, you’ve already got pressure from your coaches and teammates, and any time you put extra pressure on yourself, it just takes away from your game.”

Preparation for the 2006 season, however, was not nearly as stressful. The expectations that had followed Marsh since the end of her sophomore year had finally dissipated, giving her a chance to start over.

After logging time as a reserve in the Utes’ first few games, Marsh broke into the starting lineup, thanks in part to her solid performance in Utah’s overtime victory against Washington State.

“My family was in town that weekend,” Marsh said. “That was a big motivator for me to pick up my game a little.”

With Marsh back in her groove, the Utah front line is looking awfully dangerous. Teams will have to pick their poison when deciding which of the Utes’ forwards to cover.

“I don’t care if teams start game-planning to stop me,” Marsh said. “If they focus on me, we’ve still got Amanda (Feigt) and Adele (Letro), and both of them can make plays for us.”

Lennie Mahler

Senior Hailey Marsh sends the ball into Arizona defenders during Utah’s 2-1 win in the Utah Fall Classic on Sept. 3 at Ute Field.