Utes take on two top teams in Calif., No. 1 UCLA and No. 23 USC

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Utah has another tough weekend ahead as it hits the road to face off against two schools ranked in the top 25, No. 1 UCLA and No. 23 USC. With their history of struggling on the road, this trip will prove to be a true test for Utah.
“The Pac-12 is the heavy-weight championship,” said head coach Rich Manning. “We’re playing the champion, we’re playing contenders. So they’re going to hit us with some punches. We’re going to hit back; we’re a contender.”
Despite the Utes going up against the reigning national champs in the Bruins and the ranked Trojans, Manning expects to leave California with victories.
“If we don’t come home with six [points], I probably won’t sleep well,” Manning said. “Every point you gain in this conference is vital and important and valuable. Whatever we get on the weekend, we’re ready to move on to the Oregon trip. That’s the way we have to look at it. If you get caught up too much in one weekend or one game, it’ll snowball fast.”
The fact that Utah will be away for both games will make it more difficult to come away with two — or even one — wins from the weekend. In the last two seasons, the Utes have a combined total of four road wins and five draws.
“I think a lot of it has to do with the opponent feeling comfortable in their surroundings,” Manning said. “You have to take an aggressive attitude. I think we’ve done a good job learning how to do that.”
While playing against some of the best teams in the nation could potentially intimidate some squads, for Utah, the team feeds off the pressure.
“I’m more excited,” said junior Nykell Seymour. “I get excited to play good teams. They’re a good team, we’re a good team. It’s just who’s going to come out on top.”
Goalkeeper Lindsey Luke echoed her teammate’s feelings about the game, stating that this is a new season.
“I think this year’s different because it’s a new team,” Luke said. “The team is just different every single year. Before, it was intimidating. I don’t think that this year we would consider it intimidating more than any away game for any team would be.”
Manning doesn’t have any specific changes he wants to make for the weekend, but he will adjust his lineups to the playing style of both UCLA and USC.
In 2013, Utah was able to pull out a draw against the Bruins, who were ranked No. 2 at the time, at home. This year, however, both teams go into the matchup undefeated.
The Utes will play their first game against UCLA tonight at 9 p.m. MT, then have a day of rest before their next game against USC.
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