Utes look to improve bad season start in Oregon

By Bryan Chouinard, Staff Writer

The Utah women’s soccer team will look to turn this young season around as it travels to the northwest for a weekend in Oregon.

Rich Manning and his team will be in Eugene, Ore., at the University of Oregon to take on coach Tara Erickson and the Ducks. Erickson, who’s in her fourth year as head coach, has her Ducks off to a 1-2 start. Oregon just came off a weekend series at home where it managed to salvage a 1-0 win against Utah State, but fell to the No. 25 Purdue Boilermakers, 3-1. The Ducks dropped their season opener when they visited the No. 6 ranked Portland Pilots, and came out on the wrong end of another 3-1 decision.

Neither the Ducks nor the Utes started the season the way they wanted, both dropping early games. The matchup, however, is sure to be a game for both teams to show exactly what they are made of. It will be no cakewalk for the Utes in Eugene; the Ducks are bringing back nine of their starters from the 2007 team, but managed to finish just seventh in the Pac-10 last season.

Not only will the Utes be facing a veteran team, but a balanced team as well. In the Ducks’ first three games, all three of Oregon’s goals came from three different players. One goal came from Teresa Bowns, who has also added an assist on the year to lead the Ducks in points, which she did all of last season as well.

The Utes’ leading scorer Kelly Isleib will look to counter by adding to her team-leading two goals and four points. The Utes head into this weekend’s match with an undefeated record against the Ducks, and were most recently victorious in their last meeting back in 2007 when the teams met at Ute Field.

“It feels like we are hitting our stride,” head coach Rich Manning said. “This weekend will be a good challenge for us.”

The Ducks will be only half of the weekend challenge for the Utes. After finishing business in Eugene, the Utes will head across the state to Corvallis to take on the Oregon State Beavers. The Utes have an extensive history of playing the Ducks, but this will be their first meeting with OSU in school history.

The Beavers, who were picked to finish last in the preseason Pac-10 polls, are off to a hot start and are coming off a 2-1 victory against Utah State. The Beavers’ other victory came in their season opener against Portland State, with both wins happening at home. It has been a quick start to the 2008 season for first-time head coach Linus Rhode, who took over the team this past off-season.

As the Utes leave for their second road trip of the season, they will continue to look to improve, as they have done every game this season.

“It is still early in the season, and, as we continue to improve, I really feel that our results will turn around,” Manning said.

The Utes will get the weekend underway tonight at 7 p.m. in Eugene, and will be in action again Sunday at noon against Oregon State.

The next U soccer home game will be at Ute Field against Utah State on Sept. 12.

[email protected]

Anna Kartashova

Mallory Mitamura takes a shot against Arizona in last week?s game. Utah takes on the Oregon Ducks this week, who have also had a disappointing start to this season.