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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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Utah to face rival USU at Rio Tinto

By Bryan Chouinard

The Utah women’s soccer team will look to wrap up nonconference play this week, starting with a match against in-state rival Utah State. The Utes and Aggies will play the first neutral-site match in the rivalry’s history tonight when they meet at Real Salt Lake’s Rio Tinto Stadium. In its first year of operation, the 20,000-seat stadium has hosted not only the home matches of Real Salt Lake, but also the 2009 MLS All-Star Game and a United States World Cup Qualifier.

“Rio Tinto Stadium is such a spectacular venue,” said head coach Rich Manning. “I have been there several times, and I know our players have been many times. I think when they walk out on field Thursday, it will seem like dream to many of them.”

“Rio Tinto is an amazing place for soccer,” said striker Lauren Hair. “The best players in the world play there, and I can’t wait to be a part of it.”

The last time the Utes and Aggies met was in 2008 when the Aggies fell to Utah at Ute Field thanks to a pair of goals from midfielder Kelly Isleib and defender Morgan Skeen. The Utes are 10-1 all-time versus the Aggies, but Manning said he knows that playing at the state-of-the-art stadium will bring out the best in both sides.

“This should provide a great environment for a top-notch women’s college soccer match, and I’m sure it will raise the level of play for both sides,” Manning said. “We really hope to continue this relationship and play some future games there as well.”

The Utes are coming off their first draw of the season after tying Loyola Marymount 2-2 at a neutral field in Los Angeles. Isleib and freshman Hanna Terry found the back of the net for the Utes against LMU and are among team leaders in goals scored. Terry is leading all freshman in goals and is second on the team with three behind Isleib who has four strikes on the season

“I’ve been trying to take advantage of my opportunities,” Terry said. “Credit goes to my team for setting me up, all I have to do is shoot.”

But Terry isn’t the only freshman making an impact for Manning’s squad. Five of the seven freshmen on the Utah roster have either scored a goal or assisted on a strike 10 goals into the season.

The Aggies are coming off back-to-back away losses to Seattle University and Washington, getting out-scored in the two games by a total of 5-1. The offensive struggles of the Aggies bodes well for the Utes, who have recorded four shutouts on the season but are 1-4-1 when they allow the opponents to score. Although the Utes have a clear advantage in the series according to their record against Utah State, Manning knows that the in-state rivals never go down without a fight.

“Since I have been at Utah, all of our games with Utah State have been hard-fought and close battles,” Manning said. “I think Heather (Cairns) does a fantastic job with her team. They have very talented wings and play great defense. Combine that with playing at Rio Tinto, it should be exciting.”

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Llennie Mahler

The Utes will finish up nonconference play this week with games against Pepperdine and a neutral-field battle with Utah State at Rio Tinto Stadium tonight at 7 p.m.

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