Senior forward Missy Dennis scored a team-high nine goals last season.
June 19, 2003
The Utah women's soccer team welcomes back six starters and 14 letterwinners from last year's team that went 13-4-3 overall, advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, and placed second in the Mountain West Conference with a 4-1-1 record. Rich Manning, who was named the 2002 Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year, enters his second season with the Utes.
Utah's 2003 schedule includes three teams that were ranked in the NSCAA Top 25 last season and four NCAA Tournament teams. Michigan, which Utah hosts on Sept.1, and Texas A&M, the Utes' first road opponent on Sept. 5, were NCAA quarterfinalists last fall. Florida, the 1998 NCAA champions and a 2001 semifinalist, plays at Ute Field on Sept. 28.
Here are some notes on the 2003 Utes ...
- The Utes advanced to their first-ever NCAA Tournament under first-year head coach Rich Manning last season. Utah defeated archrival BYU 3-2 in the first round and fell to top-seeded Portland 3-0 in the second round. Both games were played in Provo, Utah.
- In the Mountain West Conference Tournament, Utah defeated Wyoming 1-0 in the quarterfinals before falling to New Mexico 1-0 in the semifinals.
- Utah opened the season without a defeat through its first seven games (5-0-2), which was the best start in the program's eight-year history. The Utes also ran their record to 11-1-3 before suffering their second loss of the season.
- The Utes' tenacious defense finished the 2002 season ranked 29th in the NCAA in goals-against average (0.84).
- The Utes recorded six shutouts and scored three goals or more in eight games last season.
- Head Coach Rich Manning was named Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year in his first year of directing the Ute program. Before taking over at the U., Manning helped lead Santa Clara as an associate head coach and assistant coach to four NCAA Tournament appearances, three NCAA College Cups (national semifinals) and the 2001 NCAA Championship. During his tenure, the Broncos went 84-11-2 and won three West Coast Conference championships.
- Utah cracked the national Top 25 polls for the first time in 2002. After getting its first-ever win over a Top 25 team against No. 3 Portland (2-0) in the season opener on Sept. 1, Utah vaulted into the national rankings at No. 23 by Soccer America. Utah remained in and out of the Soccer America and SoccerBuzz.com polls until the last week of October.
- Senior forward Missy Dennis led the team in goals (9) and points (21) and was tied for third on the team in assists (3) in 2002. Dennis earned second team all-Mountain West Conference honors. She was tied for third in the MWC in game-winning goals (3). Dennis scored two goals against nationally-ranked Kentucky.
- Junior forward Julie Herdic collected the first of two Ute hat-tricks on the season by scoring three goals against Idaho State. As a result, she was named MWC Player of the Week on Sept. 16. Herdic ranked third on the team in both points (12) and goals (5) last season.
- Senior midfielder/forward Bobbie Benegas was second on the team in assists (4) and fifth in both goals (2) and points (8).
- Defender Katie Battazzo garnered first-team all-Mountain West Conference honors as a freshman in 2002. She was tied for second on the team in shot percentage (.250) and scored a game winning goal against Weber State last season.
- Senior defender Jen Williams received second team all-Mountain West Conference honors last season as a defender. She started 16 of the 19 games she played.
- Utah's 2003 roster includes 10 newcomers. The group includes one U.S. Youth National Team member (Adele Letro) and three West Regional Olympic Development Team (ODP) Pool members (Michelle Deatherage, Amanda Feigt, Melissa Wayman). The squad also includes nine State Cup Championship members from various club teams.
- Utah placed 15 student-athletes on the academic all-Mountain West Conference team, which was the second-highest number in the league. Utes making the list were: Katie Battazzo, Bobbie Benegas, Amber Brower, Heather Wilhelm-Carter, Missy Dennis, Genny Grimm, Maren Harper, Julie Herdic, Kari Keddington, Lyndsey Asay-Kimball, Megan Maxwell, Courtney Hills-McBeth, Tracy Stratton, Katie Tate, Lisa Vasconcellos.