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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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Ute soccer signs six recruits

By Tom Quinn

It wasn’t long after the end of the 2006 soccer season that Utah soccer fans began wondering how head coach Rich Manning would replace all-conference players like Melissa Wayman, Amanda Feigt and Ashley Mason.

Judging by the six recruits that the team signed to national letters of intent on Monday, he’s already off to a good start.

“We’re already super excited about next year’s team,” Manning said. “We’re banking on having our recruits come in and contribute right away, and I think all of them are capable of doing that for us.”

Although the Utes weren’t exactly desperate for talent, Manning did an excellent job of signing players that could go a long way toward filling the holes left by the departure of this year’s senior class.

Manning addressed the graduation of forwards Feigt and Hailey Marsh by signing Erin Dalley and Lauren Hair. Dalley is fresh off a 29-goal, nine-assist season at Viewmont High, while Hair — known to her friends as La-La — led Lone Peak High to the state finals as both a junior and a senior.

“We are bringing in two dangerous forwards,” Manning said. “Needless to say, we like their soccer skills.”

Also of concern to Manning was the departure of all-conference defender Wayman and the gaping hole that she left in the middle of Utah’s back line.

Although Wayman won’t be easy to replace, the fact that four blue-chip backs will enroll next fall increases the odds of finding someone capable of filling her shoes.

Among the most notable incoming defenders include Christine Quinn and Morgan Skeen, both of whom have experience with the Olympic Development Program. Quinn, a senior at Bountiful High, was named the Utah Class 4A player of the year, while Skeen made a name for herself in her hometown of Coto De Caza, Calif.

“Morgan (Skeen) will bring a physical presence to our defense,” Manning said. “She is a terrific tackler and is very good in the air. She can play any of the positions in the back.”

Alyssa Toomey of Layton and Lehi’s Nicole Cardon round out Manning’s latest group of recruits. Both players are versatile defenders who should add some quality depth to the Utes’ back line.

“Nicole (Cardon) is a tenacious defender, and Alyssa (Toomey) is extremely versatile,” Manning said. “They can both play comfortably anywhere in the back or in midfield.”

That the vast majority of the 2007 recruiting class hails from Utah is a change of pace for Manning, who has enjoyed considerable success in both California and Arizona. He attributes this sudden change in philosophy to two factors: a plethora of in-state talent and the Utes’ ever-increasing eminence.

“This year was a good year for local players,” Manning said. “Also, we’re having a lot more success in Utah than we have had in the past. None of these girls would have signed with us two or three years ago.”

No single player better represents this shift in attitude than Quinn, whose entire family is more devoted to BYU than most Catholics are to the pope.

“I really liked Rich (Manning) and the way that he works with his players,” said Quinn of her decision to go against the family. “Also, Utah was ranked tenth in the nation last fall. That’s really exciting.”

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