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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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The last wave

By Tom Quinn

Tonight, the U soccer team will put its two-game winning streak on the line against a ranked team as Pepperdine comes to visit Ute Field for the first time in school history.

The Waves are the last team on the Utes’ unusually tough non-conference schedule and will likely be every bit as dangerous as the other teams that Utah has faced in 2006.

Soccer America has Pepperdine listed as the No. 20 team in the country, a fact that could spell trouble for the Utes as they try to put more distance between themselves and the .500 mark.

Utah, in spite of boasting an impressive 5-1 home record, is only 3-4 overall against teams ranked in the top 25. The Utes’ last win against a ranked team came in a 2-0 home win over Fresno State on Sept. 7.

The last time the two teams met was last fall in Malibu, a match that the Waves won 1-0. The Utes trail 0-1-1 in the all-time series, but have yet to face Pepperdine in Salt Lake City.

The Waves’ only losses of 2006 have come on the road, a fact that bodes well for a Utah team looking to beat them for the first time.

“We had an intense game with Pepperdine in Malibu last season,” U head coach Rich Manning said. “They have already proven they can go on the road and win against tough teams, such as Kansas and Arizona State. I think it will be a well-played, entertaining match.”

The Waves are looking to get back on track after a 3-0 shellacking at the hands of No. 3 UCLA last Sunday. But last weekend wasn’t all gloom-and-doom for Pepperdine-it also posted a 1-0 victory over San Diego on Friday night.

The Utah’s back four, a group that has been decimated by injury this season, will be tested by the Waves’ talented group of midfielders and forwards.

Sophomore midfielder Emily Wynne is the unquestioned leader of the Waves’ attack and has already tallied four goals and six assists this season, tops on the team in both categories.

Lindsey Redlin and McKenzie Hill are equally dangerous; the former has two goals and six assists on the season and the latter has contributed four goals.

Statistically, Kayla Stolte is one of the best keepers that the Utes will face all season. Her 0.82 goals-against-average is one of the best in the West, and she has three shutouts and 37 saves to boot.

Stolte’s efforts during an upset of No. 18 Kansas earned her Soccer America’s National Player of the Week Award, making her the second such defender that the Utes have faced this season.

“The Waves are tough,” Manning said. “They play a fun brand of soccer.”

Following their showdown with Pepperdine tonight, the Utes will have an open date on Sunday. Mountain West play begins the following Thursday with a match against UNLV.

Christopher Peddecord

Forward Jen Christoffers fights with Utah State’s Sierra Smith for the ball in last Sunday’s 1-0 win at Ute Field.

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