Taylor key to Utah’s success

— Chris Ayers

In soccer, most of the good teams typically have a strong midfielder, someone who is rarely subbed off and is very hard to replace. For the undefeated Utes, that player is senior Katie Taylor.
After watching just one game, it’s not hard to tell why Taylor has such a positive influence on each game she plays. She is always directly involved with each attack for the Utes, if she hasn’t taken a shot herself already. A look at her stats will show the effect she has in games.
Taylor likes to take shots and test the opposing keeper. She shoots the most out of any Ute, with 22 so far this season. She is also one of six players to start every game for Utah in 2014. Taylor’s three goals are tied for a team high, and the midfielder also leads the Utes with five assists.
Head coach Rich Manning knows the skills Taylor brings as she has started in every game except one in her entire career at Utah. In the Utes’ last game against Stanford, Manning talked about her consistent performance.
“She’s relentless,” Manning said. “In days like today in the second half and overtime, when everyone is kind of struggling with things, she comes to life. It was a typical performance for her.”
Can’t juke Luke
Junior Lindsey Luke is another one of the six players who has started every game this season as she is having an incredible season in between the posts for Utah.
Thus far in the campaign, Luke has only allowed four goals after almost 1000 minutes of play and never more than one goal in a single game. She has a save percentage of over 90 percent with 40 saves in the 10 games played and is also on track to beat her previous clean-sheet record of nine. Luke has six on the season so far.
“It doesn’t matter what happens in the game, we are hard to score on,” Manning said. “We can be on the ropes for a little bit, but we hang in there.”
Luke has been named a Pac-12 player of the week four times in her career, with the most recent honor coming last weekend after her double shutout against Utah State and UVU.
Winning in the beginning
In their 20th season, the Utes are currently off to their best start in team history.
In 10 games, Utah has yet to lose a single match, boasting a 7-0-3 record. The team is averaging nearly two goals per game with 18 in 10 games. While some teams have a scorer that sticks out more than others, this Ute squad is evenly balanced. Utah has 10 different goal scorers after six weeks of play, with six of those 10 scoring more than one goal this season.
The Utes will have to keep up the scoring if they want to make a postseason run. One struggle last season was finishing games in regulation time. At this point last season, the Utes had played in five games that required extra time, all of which ended in draws. This season is somewhat similar, as Utah has played in four extra time games, but it has won one of those four.
Luke believes her team hasn’t been given enough credit at the start, even with the strong success. The Utes were picked to place seventh overall in the Pac-12 at the beginning of the 2014 season, but Luke knows the recent success has built momentum for Utah.
The Utes will need to keep the momentum as they travel to California to take on the No. 1 team in all the land in UCLA.
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