A dish best served cold

By By Tom Quinn

By Tom Quinn

There’s nothing like a little grudge match to pull a struggling team out of a slump. And for the U women’s soccer team, tonight’s game at Idaho State will be exactly that.Three years ago, the Utes met the Bengals in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Although they dominated the game in every conceivable aspect, the Utes ultimately lost in penalty kicks, a defeat that ended an otherwise phenomenal 16-2 season on a sour note.”We have some history with Idaho State,” U head coach Rich Manning said. “I’m hoping that the seniors on this team will remember what (the Bengals) did to us when they were freshmen.”In spite of that heartbreaking loss, the Utes still lead the overall series with Idaho State 3-1-1. They also won the last time the two teams met during the regular season, a 2-0 decision in Pocatello in 2003.The Bengals, who are 3-4 overall and 1-1 at home this season, will rely on junior midfielder Michelle Okumura to put up points and freshman Annamarie Hofstetter to pull the strings on offense. Okumura leads the team with four goals, and Hofstetter is tops in assists with five on the year.Defensively, Idaho State will rely on senior goalkeeper Lyndsay Gensler, whose goals-against-average of 1.19 puts her near the top of the WAC.Idaho State should be well-rested and ready to take on the Utes after taking last weekend off. Tonight’s game will be the team’s first at its home field in nearly a month.Following their road trip to exotic Idaho, the Utes will return to Ute Field on Sunday to face Utah State in the first of four consecutive home games.The Utes have never lost to the Aggies and lead the all-time series 7-0-1. The last meeting between the two teams was every bit as lopsided as the rivalry itself; Utah won 3-0 last September in Logan.”We love the rivalry with Utah,” USU head coach Heather Cairns said. “We are going to have to come out and attack them, and put the ball in the back of the net to put some pressure on them.”Putting offensive pressure on the Utes will be a tall order for the Aggies-goals for them have been few and far between in 2006. Their top scoring threat appears to be Dana Pert, a junior midfielder who has one goal and one assist on the season. Sierra Smith and Andra Hansen also have one goal apiece.To compensate for the offense’s woes, the Aggie defense has redoubled its efforts as of late. Led by goalkeeper Ali Griffin, the Aggies nearly shut out MWC power BYU in last week’s 1-0 overtime loss to the Cougars.In addition to the in-state rivalry, Sunday’s game will also feature a family feud of sorts. Utah forward Hailey Marsh will face her younger sister Alex Marsh, a midfielder at USU, for the first time in her collegiate career.