Utes set to host first two rounds of NCAAs

By By Tom Quinn

By Tom Quinn

The NCAA announced Monday that the road to the national title will pass through Salt Lake City.

For the second consecutive year, Utah was selected to host a portion of the national women’s soccer tournament. As a result, fellow qualifiers Idaho State, Portland and BYU will travel to Ute country for the first rounds of the tourney.

The Utes–who are one of only 16 seeded teams in the tournament–will face Idaho State Thursday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. The match will mark the second meeting between the two teams in 2006. Utah won the first game, a 2-1 decision, in Pocatello, Idaho.

“We’re lucky,” said Utah head coach Rich Manning. “We get to start out against a team that we know very well.”

The draw was not as friendly to the Cougars; they will square off against defending national champion Portland at 7 p.m. on Thursday.

The Utes had expected to take their quest for a national title on the road, and they were pleasantly surprised to hear that their competition will be coming to Ute Field, where they have enjoyed considerable success this season.

“We’re really excited to be hosting the first two rounds,” Manning said. “It’s an honor that not a lot of teams get.”

In spite of Manning’s enthusiasm, the team received the announcement with a businesslike attitude. After all, there was never any doubt that the Utes would be among the 64 teams selected; they only needed to know when and where they would play.

“All we’re promised is an opportunity,” said Manning. “But that’s all we want. There are 250 teams that didn’t qualify for this tournament. Any one of them would love to be in our position.”

Unfortunately for the Utes, they will likely be without forward Hailey Marsh for Thursday’s game against Idaho State. Marsh, a senior, suffered a serious concussion during last week’s MWC tournament, and her return is still a subject of speculation.

“We don’t know when she’ll be ready to play,” said Manning. “Her status is to be decided.”

The severity of Marsh’s injury landed her in the hospital, where she stayed for much of Saturday night. All things considered, Marsh was fairly lucky. A few days of rest and a large dose of morphine was all she needed to get back on her feet.

Lennie Mahler

Amanda Feigt competes with UNLV defender Dani Davis for a header in the second half of Saturday’s MWC championship.