Utah falls apart in conference play, says goodbye to home unbeaten streak

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— Chris Samuels

Utah’s season is currently in bad shape and declining quickly, a far cry from where the Utes were a month ago when they were enjoying the best program start in history.
The Utes went their first 10 games without a single loss. The strong start showed promise for the team, who only allowed four goals in those 10 contests. Once conference play began, things started to go downhill for Utah.
A draw with top-ranked Stanford kept hope alive, but it was followed by three straight losses, leaving the team’s confidence in shambles. A win at Oregon State was a glimmer of light in a darkening season, but after a draw and two more defeats, the Utes’ preseason goals are all but lost. Utah head coach Rich Manning always describes the Pac-12 as the toughest conference to play in, and Utah is finding that to be true firsthand.
“A lot of the games in the league are like that,” Manning said.
There are only three games left for Utah in this season. Goals that were made at the beginning of the season are now on the back burner as the team focuses on just winning a game.
“Hopefully we come back next week and play together and come out with different results,” said junior Megan Trabert.
Home streak snapped
Before this past weekend, the Utes had an incredible streak of 18 home games without a loss, a feat that began back in 2012 with a win against Oregon. Following losses to Washington and Washington State over the weekend, the home unbeaten steak is now a thing of the past.
Coming into last Friday’s game against the Huskies, Utah had outscored its opponents 36-11 at home but was outscored 5-2 against the Washington schools.
Utah returned home from a five-game road stretch last Friday and, even with the negative results, coming home was still a relief after a long time away.
“It felt good to be home,” said senior Katie Taylor. “It was more relaxed because we are at home. It’s good to be home after being away. Having friends and family and all the fans around, it’s nice to be back.”
Manning Awards
In Manning’s 13 seasons at Utah, he has seen a lot of ups and downs. For the ups, he has received a number of awards.
“It means the program has been successful,” Manning said. “We’ve had some good teams and some good players. I feel like the players, the administration and the program in general has made some huge strides, and I’m also proud of that.”
Despite his humility, he has also made some serious changes for the better. In his very first season back in 2002 he helped the Utes earn their first-ever national ranking. The success of his inaugural season impressed, and he was awarded with Mountain West Conference coach of the year.
Manning would secure another MWC coach of the year honor in 2005 when he led his team to the top of the conference.
Manning was named the National Soccer Coaches Association of America West Region Coach of the Year in 2003. The award is voted on by fellow coaches, which made the honor even more meaningful to Manning.
Before coming to Utah, Manning was already winning awards for his work with Los Alamitos High School. There he won the California Interscholastic Federation Coach of the Year in 1996 and the Orange County Coach of the Year in 1997.
Manning’s track record shows he’s the best man for the task of getting the Utes out of their recent slump. His team and his coaching staff have full faith in him to help his side return to its winning ways.
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