Utes to take on UNLV

By By Matt Sanchez

By Matt Sanchez

There’s no place like Las Vegas.

The women’s soccer team (5-7-1, 0-1-0) is back on the road and heading for Las Vegas for a match tonight against conference foe UNLV.

Utah holds the all-time record against the Rebels (5-4-4, 0-0-0) with a 9-3-3 mark, including 3-1-1 in Las Vegas.

“UNLV is always a team that plays with lot of pride and is well-organized,” said head coach Rich Manning. “They have had a lot of success in our conference over the last several years, and I think they will step up their play in the conference again this season.”

The Rebels come into Thursday night’s game following a neutral-site split last weekend at the San Diego State Classic. UNLV opened with a 2-1 win against Seattle, then fell to Oregon State by a 3-0 score.

“Vegas always has a very fast team,” said redshirt sophomore Erin Dalley. “They attack really well, and they will try and get us off balance. It should be a physical, rough and fun game.”

UNLV is led offensively by Jenna Larkin’s three goals. Shannon Hughes and Colette Jepson have each scored twice, and Hughes has also added an assist. Amanda Forrester has taken the most shots on the squad (19), scoring once. She is also tied with Dani Morin for the team-lead in assists with two.

In the goal for the Rebels is Alicia Lugo, who has played every minute of the season between the pipes. Lugo has logged 62 saves for a .827 save percentage and posted four shutouts. She has only given up 13 goals and has five shutouts under her belt this season.

“They have a very good, experienced goalkeeper in Alicia Lugo, and some fast players up top,” Manning said. “I think it will be a tight game with one goal probably making the difference.”

The Rebels are led by fifth-year head coach Katherine Mertz, who holds a 48-34-18 record for a .570 winning percentage.

“UNLV is well-coached and play great team ball,” Manning said. “We need to come out focused and ready for a very difficult game.”

The Utes know that this is a big game for the team to get out of the funk it has been in the past few weeks. The Utes have not gotten a win since they beat Princeton on Sept. 9.
Although the Utes have not lost to UNLV in the regular season since 2004, they are not overlooking the Rebels and know the importance of this game.

“We definitely have the talent to compete and win every game we play in,” said junior forward Lauren Hair. “UNLV will be a tough game for us, and this feels like the biggest game of the year. We have a great week of practice and are ready to get a win.”

Sophomore midfielder Lauren Porter suffered a concussion after she was struck in the jaw in the loss to BYU last weekend and is still listed as day-to-day. She will make the trip to Las Vegas and has been practicing with the team but has not done any heading drills.

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