Utes prepare for home game against BYU

By Bryan Chouinard, Staff Writer

The Utes will have one final tune-up weekend before they open up conference play against BYU at Ute Field.

Utah is coming off a contest with Cal State Fulerton where after an early goal, the Utes fought back to even the score, escaping with a 1-1 draw.

“Our shooting was poor on Sunday but we’re working on that,” said head coach Rich Manning. “If I compare last weekend with the past four or so weekends, we’re getting a lot more chances and that’s a positive, we’re gaining an understanding and a rhythm, the last part of it is getting it in the goal.”

While Utah only managed one goal against CSFU, they did get off 28 shots, 10 of which were on net. The ball stayed in the attacking zone of Utah for the majority of the second half, thanks to solid defense throughout and the ability of the back four to move up.

“I’ve been really pleased with the progress of the defense in general,” Manning said. “That goes all the way back from the forwards, to the midfielders, to the defenders back to the goalie. The fact that we’re getting good defense from the first two rows is helping the backs and the goalkeeper.”

“Our defense is really learning to play with each other,” said sophomore right-back Morgan Skeen. “We’re starting to cover a lot more for each other when one of us is beat, that’s helping us a lot, the forwards are coming back and the midfield is pinching to help us.”

While the forwards and midfielders have been helping out on defense, the back line of Utah has been contributing equally by getting forward into the attacking zone. The past three goals scored by Utah have come from their back four, two goals have come from Skeen and another from center-back Lauren Porter.

“That’s been our main focus that our coaches have had us outside backs working on,” Skeen said. “Just to get forward and the midfielders are looking for me and playing good me good balls, so it’s definitely my team that’s getting me to that point.”

Skeen’s success in getting up forward is no surprise to her coaches, who said her ability to get into the attacking zone is one of the main reasons they knew she would be successful here in Salt Lake.

“When she came here that was something we knew she could bring to the team,” Manning said. “Anytime you can have a defender that can get involved in the attack, getting up their and breaking down the defense, it’s very helpful to your attack.”

Still, a lot of work is to be done this week for Utah, which knows it will have to be on top of its game before heading off for its last road trip before conference play begins.

“What we need to keep improving on is the details,” Manning said. “The technical part of it, we have the will power and the basic structure, now we just need the timing and the little details to work out to execute it.”

One thing no one can question is the team’s ability to play through adversity. Half of Utah’s games this year have gone to overtime and only two of their games have been decided by more than one goal.

“It’s a very resilient group,” Manning said. “All the games have been down to the wire and they can handle that pressure, which is great. They can bounce back from disappointment and in soccer that is such a critical quality to have. We have a lot of resiliency and character which I think is terrific.”

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Lucas Isley

Chelsea Forbes doing her best to defend the ball against Cal State Fullerton in Sundays game. The teams defense is learning to play better together as the season progresses.